Isis member convicted for sending Bitcoin from UK to free terrorists from Syrian prisons

Hisham Chaudhary transferred thousands of pounds to people smugglers in Syria

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Tuesday 06 July 2021 17:34
<p>Hisham Chaudhary was convicted of Isis membership and other terror offences</p>

Hisham Chaudhary was convicted of Isis membership and other terror offences

A man who tried to use Bitcoin to free Isis militants from prisons in Syria has been convicted of terror offences.

Hisham Chaudhary is believed to be just the third person convicted of being a member of Isis in the UK.

The 28-year-old, of Oadby in Leicestershire, was also found guilty of two counts of entering terrorist fundraising arrangements and four of disseminating terrorist publications after a month-long trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

He has been remanded in custody ahead of a sentencing hearing on 3 September.

Prosecutor Samuel Main previously told the Old Bailey the case was “factually novel” and one of the first times someone had been charged with being a member of Isis in the UK.

He added: “This is not the first time an individual has been charged with membership of Islamic State. The Crown [Prosecution Service] understands it to be the third at least.”

Police said Chaudhary used Bitcoin to fundraise for Isis and transfer thousands of pounds to smugglers, in order to free Isis members from detention in Syria.

No evidence was presented to the court over whether anyone was freed as a result of Chaudhary’s efforts, although numerous escapes have been reported.

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly warned that they cannot secure prisons and camps indefinitely, and urged countries including the UK to repatriate captured Isis members.

The court heard that Chaudhary had been a member of Isis since January 2016 and carried out fundraising and propaganda work to benefit the group.

Counter-terror police described him as a “trusted and active member of the group”, who “immersed himself” in spreading terrorist propaganda through Twitter and the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

A spokesperson for Counter Terrorism Policing North East added: “Operating largely online, the defendant was able to serve the objectives of the organisation from the UK, by promoting violent jihad, providing safe communication networks for like-minded individuals and sourcing money to assist other members.

“Chaudhary created videos to spread the ideology of Daesh and to call others to arms. He did so using platforms popular with the group and went to great lengths to ensure they reached the right audience. He even sought assistance to protect the legacy of his videos, to prevent them from being deleted or taken down.”

Chaudhary, who was arrested in November 2019, had denied all offences and tried to present himself as a humanitarian.

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

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

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