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.
According to a report by The Washington Post, 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 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".
FBI found violent propaganda materials
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 1,72,000 in virtual currency and collected USD 15,000 in digital funds from others.
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.
Women held in refugee camp forced to get married to IS fighters
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.
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 inputs from PTI)