NYC woman funneled $15,000 to terrorist groups in Syria using cryptocurrency, officials allege

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A New York City woman is accused of funding terrorist groups in Syria using cryptocurrency, authorities announced Tuesday.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges that Victoria Jacobs, 43, sent more than $15,000 to a training group affiliated with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a designated terrorist group operating in Syria.

The six-count indictment, filed in New York Supreme Court, also alleges Jacobs tried to provide the group with a U.S. military handbook on how to make improvised-explosive devices and posted pictures of weapons in an online forum.

Allegations timeline

Sept. 2018- June 2019

  • Jacobs allegedly sent $5,000 to Malhama Tactical, a group known to provide military training to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
  • Jacobs allegedly laundered $10,661 raised for Malhama Tactical she received in cryptocurrency, Western Union and MoneyGram wires. She sent the funds to various Bitcoin wallets.
  • She allegedly also purchased Google Play gift cards for the group. Gift cards are often used to launder money.

Dec. 2019

  • The 43-year-old allegedly provided an online group she believed to be associated with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and another al-Qaida affiliated organization with a U.S. military handbook on improvised munitions.
  • Prosecutors alleged this was intended to help the terrorist groups make bombs in Syria.

Aug. 2021

  • Prosecutors allege Jacobs posted photos of “military-style combat knives, metal knuckles, and throwing-stars” in an online forum where she allegedly called herself “a brother” who was “behind enemy lines.”
  • Jacobs allegedly asked the forum to pray for the “courage, strength, guidance, and wisdom to carry out certain missions.”

Jacobs was denied asylum, court records show

Immigration court records show Jacobs was born in the former Soviet Union and is a citizen of Uzbekistan.

  • In 2015, Jacobs, a transgender woman who was then named in court as Bakrhom Talipov, lost her appeal of a 2011 decision that denied her asylum in the United States and protection under the United Nations’ Convention of Torture, which gives unsuccessful asylum seekers protection if there is evidence to believe they would be tortured if returned home.

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