DOJ Goes After ISIS PPE Face Mask Site

Finally, a story that has both ISIS and the coronavirus. 

This actually begins with the DOJ pursuing bitcoin donations going to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and ISIS. The trail to those donations predictably went to Turkey, which is now the leading Sunni Islamist terror state, and there things got interesting. 

The Justice Department today announced the dismantling of three terrorist financing cyber-enabled campaigns, involving the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).  

By cyber-enabled, they mean online bitcoin donations. Al-Qassam is Hamas.

“It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.   “The Department of Justice will employ all available resources to protect the lives and safety of the American public from terrorist groups.  We will prosecute their money laundering, terrorist financing and violent illegal activities wherever we find them.  And, as announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible."

Working together, IRS, HSI, and FBI agents tracked and seized all 150 cryptocurrency accounts that laundered funds to and from the al-Qassam Brigades’ accounts.  Simultaneously, law enforcement executed criminal search warrants relating to United States-based subjects who donated to the terrorist campaign. 

The second cyber-enabled terror finance campaign involves a scheme by al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, largely based out of Syria.  As the forfeiture complaint details, these terrorist organizations operated a bitcoin money laundering network using Telegram channels and other social media platforms to solicit cryptocurrency donations to further their terrorist goals

Undercover HSI agents communicated with the administrator of Reminder for Syria, a related charity that was seeking to finance terrorism via bitcoin donations.  The administrator stated that he hoped for the destruction of the United States, discussed the price for funding surface-to air missiles, and warned about possible criminal consequences from carrying out a jihad in the United States.

 Today’s complaint seeks forfeiture of the 155 virtual currency assets tied to this terrorist campaign.   

But here's where things get interesting.

The final complaint combines the Department’s initiatives of combating COVID-19 related fraud with combating terrorism financing.  The complaint highlights a scheme by Murat Cakar, an ISIS facilitator who is responsible for managing select ISIS hacking operations, to sell fake personal protective equipment 

That's right. PPE + ISIS

On November 26, 2018, Zoobia Shahnaz pled guilty to providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B. Specifically, Shanaz sent more than $150,000 to shell companies, including companies in Turkey that were fronts for ISIS, and attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS. 

Shanaz used more than a dozen fraudulently obtained credit cards to purchase approximately $62,000 in Bitcoin, which she converted back to fiat currency to send to the shell companies.

Financial records reveal that Zoobia Shahnaz sent approximately $100,000 to an alias of Murat Cakar. 

According to a confidential reliable source, Cakar is an ISIS facilitator who is responsible for managing select ISIS hacking operations, including activity involving Defendant Property 1

Property 1 is where things get interesting.

Law enforcement, while in Washington, D.C., reviewed Defendant Property 1 and found that this site claims to sell multiple types of facemasks and PPE, including disposable hospital grade face masks, N95 respirator masks, washable facemasks, DuPont Tyvek coverall suits, and gloves.

The claim that the website launched in 1996 is demonstrably false. Publicly available website registration records revealed that the website was created from an IP address in Turkey on February 26, 2020. Additionally, the site is not “owned and operated” by sanitary experts

ISIS beheadings are notoriously unsanitary. 

A review of the masks purportedly for sale on the site revealed that the masks are produced by a Turkish company. In spite of the Defendant Property 1’s above statements, this Turkish manufacturer’s respirators are not on the list of FDA/NIOSH approved N-95 respirators.

But does Joe Biden approve? Face masks and Islamic terrorists in one bundle. What's not to like?