UK hits Bitcoin militant with 12-year jail term
LONDON: A British man who sent tens of thousands of pounds worth of Bitcoin to Daesh was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for financing the terror group, Arab News reported.
Hisham Chaudhary, 28, was a “well-connected, trusted and highly active” member of Daesh, and supported them financially from a small town in Leicestershire, England.
In total, Chaudhary sent more than £55,000 ($76,279) worth of Bitcoin to the group.
In one instance, he sent $6,934 to fund the jailbreak of the wife of a notorious jihadist from the Kurdish-administered Al Hol detention camp in Syria.
Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies represent fertile ground for terrorist financing, and other sorts of illicit activities such as drug dealing because the transactions are significantly more difficult to trace than standard bank transfers.
In a court in Birmingham, Chaudhary was found guilty of membership to Daesh, two counts of funding the organization, four counts of making and disseminating propaganda videos for the group, which included the translation of a speech by Al-Qaeda former leader Osama bin Laden.
Chaudhary was said to have sworn allegiance to the group in 2016 after he unsuccessfully failed to join them in Syria, near the height of its expansion.
Following that, he is said to have acted as a sleeper agency for them in Britain and engaged in funding activities worth tens of thousands of pounds to the group in 2018 and 2019.
Judge Paul Farrer said he was a “highly active” member of Daesh who was “trusted and accepted” and would forward questions on Islamic interpretation.
Chaudhary was involved in “repeatedly organizing funding for the extraction of (Daesh) supporters from detention camps in Syria and their subsequent smuggling back to (Daesh)-controlled areas,” the judge said.
“The evidence reveals that you were not simply an individual who raised money,” he added.
“Instead, you played an organizing role which included having direct contact with the individual who was negotiating with the smugglers and conducting negotiations on price and route.”
Chaudhary’s defense lawyers said he was a man of “great potential” who was involved in charity work, student leadership, and teaching young people.
The prosecutor said: “Not only did the defendant involve himself wholeheartedly with ISIS (using another term for the terror group Daesh) activities but he was also accepted by their number as a trusted and worthy member.”
On Nov. 6, 2019, Chaudhary asked a contact called Hsoomi to “deliver our new bayah (pledges of allegiance) to the emirs so they accept them” and was told: “Sorted, will be delivered. My brother, from you is enough.”
Davis said: “The obvious inference to draw from this exchange is that the defendant’s word is enough to satisfy the ISIS leaders that the defendant was a loyal party member.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said: “From the comfort of his home in the UK, Hisham Chaudhary took an active role in promoting, supporting, and funding terrorism.
“It is evident he was a valued member of (Daesh), one who had consistently demonstrated his allegiance through his actions.”
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