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ISIS member who sent Bitcoin from UK to free jihadists from Syrian prisons is jailed for 12 years 

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A sales consultant, believed to be the first Briton to be convicted of membership in the Islamic State, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of using Bitcoin to help fund the terror group.

Hashim Chaudhary, 28, raised thousands of pounds before exchanging the money for Bitcoin to help free Daesh fighters from detention camps.

A court heard he was an “active and prominent” member of IS and was found carrying publications about Osama Bin Laden when police raided his home.

Hashim Chaudhary, 28, raised thousands of pounds before converting the money into Bitcoin to free Daesh fighters from detention camps

He also used Bitcoin to receive and transfer thousands of pounds, and paid smugglers to free IS supporters from detention camps in Syria.

He also used Bitcoin to receive and transfer thousands of pounds, and paid smugglers to free IS supporters from detention camps in Syria.

During the morning raid in November 2019, police also found IS propaganda videos showing that he had produced a ‘call to arms’ video that was distributed over the internet.

The judges were told that Chaudhary of Oadby, Leicestershire, operated mainly online and was able to ‘promote violent jihad from the UK’.

He also used Bitcoin to receive and transfer thousands of pounds, and paid smugglers to free IS supporters from detention camps in Syria.

Chaudhary was found guilty of seven offenses under the Terrorism Act and is believed to be one of the first Britons convicted of membership of IS.

A court heard that he had been a member of the terror group since 2016.

Following a trial at the Birmingham Crown Court, he was convicted of joining a banned organisation, distributing terrorist publications and entering into a terrorist financing scheme.

Today Chaudhary was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the same court with an extended five-year license period.

Sentencing Judge Paul Farrer, QC, said: “I have to sentence you for a series of terrorist offences.

Tel 1 concerns membership of Islamic State between January 2016 and October 2020.

“The evidence shows that you traveled to the Middle East for approximately two and a half months at the end of 2016.

“In a social media conversation you had in 2019, you said you had tried unsuccessfully to enter Syria.

“I am pleased that you have traveled to physically support the cause of IS – I conclude that you joined that organization at the end of 2016. You swore your allegiance in 2019.

‘You were a very active member of the organization. You were involved in organizing funding for the extraction of IS supporters from detention camps in Syria and their subsequent smuggling back into IS-controlled areas.

“The extent of your activity is revealed by your Bitcoin trading. In 2018, you bought just under £17,000 worth of Bitcoin, of which £16,000 was transferred to unidentified sources.

In 2019 you transferred more than £35,000 worth of Bitcoin.

“You still claim that your action was motivated by a humanitarian consideration – I reject that.

The judges were told that Chaudhary, from Oadby, Leicestershire, operated mainly online and was able to 'promote violent jihad from the UK'

The judges were told that Chaudhary, from Oadby, Leicestershire, operated mainly online and was able to ‘promote violent jihad from the UK’

“I have no doubt that your real motivation was to help the Islamic State free supporters from detention camps.

‘In September 2019 you transferred money from America and Sweden to an American IS member.

At the end of 2019 you transferred money to secure the release of a Dutch IS member in Northern Syria.

‘Your goal was to get her out of the camp before she and her children could be taken back to the Netherlands.

‘You were also involved in making propaganda material that was undoubtedly intended to increase support for the organization.

In April 2018, you translated a speech by Osama Bin Laden called ‘On the Margin of Events’ that allowed you to take up arms against those who oppose the Islamic State.

“Your behavior would probably contribute to terrorism.

‘You are a very intelligent person, who has made a positive contribution to society in the past – volunteering and charitable work.

“But unfortunately your actions show that you are a committed extremist. There is no reason to believe that you are giving up these views lightly.

“I conclude that you are a dangerous offender and probably will remain for the foreseeable future.

“It is impossible to estimate how long you will remain a danger, but in my opinion the maximum extension of your permit by five years is necessary to protect the population.”

Prosecutor Simon Davis had previously told the court that Chaudhary had a close relationship with IS and had used the money to finance further terrorism.

He said: ‘The defendant had a close relationship with IS and turned out to have a collection of publications, some with Osama Bin Laden – he was very active and prominent.

He went out of his way to source and edit publications and encouraged others to put the publication on Archive.org to ensure its longevity on the web.

“He had close ties to IS media.

“He was approached by a ‘sister’ in Idlib, Syria, and a conversation took place about how to send money to Idlib.

‘IS fighters were heavily dependent on multiple donations.

Speaking about funding Bitcoin, Chaudhary said, ‘I’ve been doing this for years and no one has been caught yet’.

Money would likely finance further terrorism, allowing ISIS to continue their activities from Idlib.

“It would have the obvious effect of raising the morale of the organization’s members, perpetuating the life of the organization and enabling further terrorist activity.”

“Approximately £40,000 has been used for what the defendant claimed to be ‘humanitarian purposes’.

“There was a potential for radicalization online, this was through Twitter, a Telegram account and Archive.org.

Twitter quickly removed this from their platform, but Archive.org still had publications online in January 2021 before they were taken down.

“The Telegram account was also still up and running in June 2020, but was removed again in June 2021.”

Nawaz Hussain, defensively, said: ‘His membership in IS was clearly active, but this was not someone of fame.

“He raised money for charities for Oxfam to do something good, his motivations were to lend a hand to those who are suffering.

“He has an element of a rescuer complex – being too intelligent for his own good. He is far from physical violence.

“His motivation was to release a woman from a camp. This was a humanitarian endeavor, which turned into crime.”

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