A 33-year-old Indian-American man has been charged in the US state of Virginia for transferring thousands of dollars to Islamic State women, hoping to smuggle them out of a Syrian refugee camp, a media report said.
Mohammed Azharuddin Chhipa used social media to raise funds for IS women in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria and voiced his support for violent jihad online, The Washington Post newspaper reported on Friday.
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Use of social media
The report, citing an FBI filing, said that in 2019 Chippa began using social media to raise funds for sisters in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria, which is assessed to be a stronghold of ISIS ideology, claiming the money was for shelter, the FBI said.
The FBI said that thousands of videos, pictures, essays, books, notes, and search histories about extremist ideology, jihad, ISIS, and violent propaganda on multiple devices turned up during a search of Chhipa’s home in 2019.
Chippa, being held in jail after making an initial appearance in a Virginia court on Friday, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation, the report said.
According to Chippa’s financial records obtained by the federal agency from 2019 to 2022, he purchased USD 172,000 in virtual currency and collected USD 15,000 in digital funds from others.
PayPal account blocked
More than USD 18,000 allegedly went to wallets known to be used by ISIS women located in Syria, while the total funds Chhipa sent to smuggle IS women out of the camp could be much higher, the FBI said in a court filing. Payment platform PayPal in March 2021 blocked the account through which Chippa received the funds.
Many of the women held in the refugee camp were married to IS fighters, killed or captured in their fight for control of Syrian territory against US-backed forces, the FBI was quoted as saying in the report.
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Court hearing scheduled
The report said that Chhipa was arrested at a migrant detention centre near the Mexican-Guatemalan border and deported to the US on August 16, 2019. However, the FBI made no mention of his deportation.
The court scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to determine whether Chhipa should be held in jail pending trial.
(With Agency inputs)