A 43 year old Upper East Side woman was indicted on charges of money laundering and using cryptocurrency and Google Play gift cards to funnel money to terrorist groups operating in Syria that were affiliated with al-Queda.
Forty three year old Victoria Jacobs, who was known as Bakhrom Talipov, faces charges that include soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism, money laundering in support of terrorism in the third degree and other charges.
In one exchange, prosecutors said Jacobs posed as a “brother” who was “behind enemy lines” and asked for prayers for the “courage, strength, guidance and wisdom to carry out certain missions,” according to a statement from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
“This case marks the first time that terrorism financing is being prosecuted in New York State Court and is one of the rare cases worldwide where cryptocurrency is alleged to have financed terrorism,” Bragg said in a statement.
“International terrorism remains a grave threat to safety and freedom around the world,” said NYPD Commissioner Sewell.
According to the indictment and other documents filed in court, from September 2018 to June 2019, Jacobs provided material support to Hay’at Tahir al-Sham, which is designated as a foreign terrorist group by the State Department. She is also charged with providing $5,000 to what the DA’s office said was the terrorist training group Malhama Tactical which was said to have provided special tactical and military training to Hay’at Tahir al-Sham.
She is also charged with laundering $10,661 on behalf of Mahalma Tactical by receiving cryptocurrency and Western Union and MoneyGram wires from supporters and sending the money to Bitcoin wallets controlled by Mahalma Tactical.
In addition, prosecutors claim she gave a U.S. Army Improvised Munitions handbook to an online group which she believed was affiliated with an al-Queda linked group.
She was also said to have purchased combat knives, brass knuckles and throwing stars by posing in online forums and turned them over to Mahalma Tactical.
The DA’s office has indicted a number of defendants on the state terrorism charges but so far only the so-called “radical cleric” Shaikh Abdullah from Jamaica has proceeded to trial which resulted in his conviction on Jan. 26 on five counts.
“This case marks the first time that terrorism financing is being prosecuted in New York State Court and is one of the rare cases worldwide where cryptocurrency is alleged to have financed terrorism.” Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg