Hisham Chaudhary: Bitcoin jihadist jailed for 12 years after sending £55,000 to Islamic State | UK News

Hisham Chaudhary: Bitcoin jihadist jailed for 12 years after sending £55,000 to Islamic State | UK News

A “well-connected, trusted and highly active” member of Islamic State has been jailed for 12 years after using Bitcoin to send over £55,000 to the terrorist group from a small town in Leicestershire.

In one transaction, Hisham Chaudhary, 28, a sales assistant from the town of Oadby, Leicestershire, provided £5,000 in order for the group to break a jihadi bride out of a notorious detention camp.

Chaudhary was found guilty of membership of IS, two counts of funding the organisation and four counts of making and disseminating propaganda videos for the group, including translating a speech by Osama bin Laden.

He was said to have sworn allegiance to IS after trying unsuccessfully to join them in Syria in January 2016 and remained a member for the next three years, acting as a sleeper agent in the UK.

He set up a Bitcoin funding system and transferred totals of £16,000 in 2018 and £35,000 in 2019 to unidentified sources “without any discernible benefit” to himself.

In a message in October 2019, he told a contact: “This is the best way. We have been doing this for years and no-one has been caught by the virtue of Allah.”

Judge Paul Farrer QC said Chaudhary was a “highly active” member of IS who was “trusted and accepted” and would forward questions on Islamic interpretation.

Chaudhary was involved in “repeatedly organising funding for the extraction of IS supporters from detention camps in Syria and their subsequent smuggling back to IS-controlled areas,” the judge said.

“The evidence reveals that you were not simply an individual who raised money,” he added.

“Instead, you played an organising role which included having direct contact with the individual who was negotiating with the smugglers and conducting negotiations on price and route.”

Gul Nawaz Hussain QC, defending, told the court Choudhary was a young man of “great potential” who was involved in charity work, student leadership, and teaching young people.

The judge said he was an “intelligent man”, but added: “Unfortunately, your actions demonstrate that you are a committed extremist intent upon furthering the terrorist agenda of Islamic State.

“There is no reason to believe that you will surrender these views lightly and I conclude that you are and are likely to remain a dangerous offender for the foreseeable future.”

From his home in Oadby, Chaudhary sent £5,000 to a contact in Turkey who was seeking to break out a woman called Umm Baraa out of the al Hol camp.

Basil Hassan
Image:
Chaudhary sent £5,000 to try to free the wife of Basil Hassan (pictured) from a camp in Syria

The woman was the wife of Basil Hassan, a notorious Danish ISIS member who was the controller behind a plot to blow up an Etihad flight as it left Sydney, which was foiled at the last minute in July 2017.

Hassan was killed near the Lebanese border in August 2017, shortly after the plot was foiled when a customer service agent told the courier that his baggage – which contained the bomb – was overweight.

Simon Davis, prosecuting, told Birmingham Crown Court: “Not only did the defendant involve himself whole heartedly with IS activities but he was also accepted by their number as a trusted and worthy member.”

On 6 November 2019, Chaudhary asked a contact called Hsoomi to “deliver our new bayah [pledges of allegiance] to the emirs so they accept them” and was told: “Sorted, will be delivered. My brother, from you is enough.”

“The obvious inference to draw from this exchange is that the defendant’s word is enough to satisfy the IS leaders that the defendant was a loyal party member,” Mr Davis said.

MI5 and police launched Operation Multivalence and Chaudhary was arrested at home shortly before 6am on 12 November by counter-terrorism police.

He claimed money coming into his Barclays account was his salary, money for work he did for people on websites, repayment of loans he had given friends and the proceeds of deals he did in cryptocurrency.

He claimed a contact called Joe Smith was a friend in Istanbul with whom he chatted on Telegram, who he had sent £5,500, the proceeds from Bitcoin trading.

By the time he came to court, Chaudhary claimed that he was providing humanitarian aid to Syria.

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said: “From the comfort of his home in the UK, Hisham Chaudhary took an active role in promoting, supporting and funding terrorism.

“It is evident he was a valued member of [IS], one who had consistently demonstrated his allegiance through his actions.

“Despite the weight of the evidence against him, Hisham Chaudhary has tried to present himself as a humanitarian. He is in fact a terrorist and has been recognised as such by the jury.”



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