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Brentwood Woman Gets 13 Years For Sending Money To ISIS

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A 30-year-old Brentwood woman was sentenced Friday to 13 years in federal prison for sending more than $150,000 to ISIS, the international terrorist organization based in Syria and Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert sentenced Zoobia Shahnaz at Central Islip federal court after Shahnaz pleaded guilty in 2018 to providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

“Today, the defendant learned the consequences of seeking to join ISIS and funneling thousands of dollars into the terrorist organization’s coffers,” said Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “There is no higher priority of the Department of Justice and this office than protecting our country from those who support violent, hate-filled terrorist organizations.”

Prosecutors said the U.S. citizen fraudulently applied for more than a dozen credit cards that she used to purchase Bitcoin, then transferred the funds to shell entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey. The ultimate destination for the money was the Islamic State, according to investigators. 

Law enforcement questioned her in July 2017 when she tried to board a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Islamabad, Pakistan with a multi-day layover in Istanbul, Turkey, which authorities said is a common point of entry for individuals travelling from Western countries to join ISIS in Syria.

She is the eighth person with Long Island ties implicated in a terror plot since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Bryant Neal Vinas of Patchogue, an al-Qaeda recruit-turned-informant, was released from jail in 2017.

Westbury native Samir Khan, the one-time editor of al-Qaeda’s magazine, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Mohammad Younis of Centereach pleaded guilty in 2011 to unwittingly providing $7,000 to Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square Bomber. And Elvis Redzepagic, of Commack, was arrested in 2018 for trying to join ISIS.

In addition, fellow Brentwood residents Marcos Alonso Zea and Justin Kaliebe were sentenced in 2016 to 25 years and 13 years in prison, respectively, for trying to join al-Qaeda. And Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, who grew up in Westbury, pledged allegiance to ISIS during the Orlando massacre.

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