REPORT: ISIS May Have Used eBay to Funnel Payments to Operative in US
According to a recently unsealed FBI affidavit, the ISIS terrorist group may have used eBay to funnel money to an ISIS operative in the United States.
The FBI arrested Mohamed Elshinawy in Maryland last year after a surveillance operation uncovered clues to an international financial network run by the terrorist group to send money to ISIS members, The Wall Street Journal reports.
A 2016 indictment by the U.S. government alleges that Elshinawy pledged allegiance to ISIS and operated a phony eBay account that sold computer printers so that he could receive payments through PayPal from ISIS members.
The recently unsealed FBI affidavit that was filed in federal court in Baltimore, said it was masterminded by a now-deceased senior ISIS leader in Syria, Siful Sujan, who was in charge of computer operations for the terrorist group.
The affidavit indicates that several other alleged operatives of the scheme were arrested in Britain and Bangladesh while others were killed in a coordinated global sweep in December 2015. Sujan was killed in a drone strike in December 2015, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal.
According to the affidavit, the scheme was operated through a British technology company started by Sujan that had offices in Bangladesh. Sujan was also setting up a branch in Turkey, it said. Elshinawy, in his early 30s, received $8,700 through eBay transactions, five via PayPal from Sujan’s company.
He was instructed to use the money for “operational purposes” in the United States he told investigators, according to the Journal. Elshinawy told the FBI he believed the money was funding for a terrorist attack in the United States, but said he never planned to carry one out. Instead, the affidavit indicated, he said he was taking the money from “thieves.”
He used the money for a cellphone, a laptop, and a VPN communications network, all of which the FBI claims in the affidavit he used to communicate with other ISIS members.
He has pleaded not guilty to supporting the terror group, and is now in federal custody awaiting trial.
A spokesman for eBay Inc. told the Journal it has “zero tolerance for criminal activities taking place on our marketplace” and that they are working on the case with law enforcement.
A spokeswoman for PayPal Holdings Inc. told the Journal that it “invests significant time and resources” to prevent terrorist activity on its platform.
“We proactively report suspicious activities and respond quickly to lawful requests to support law enforcement agencies in their investigations.”