A recently unsealed FBI affidavit reveals that investigators in the U.S. have been looking into a global financial network which used fake eBay transactions to funnel money to an alleged operative in the U.S.
The network was run by senior Islamic State official Sitful Sujan, who was killed in a U.S.-led airstrike in December of 2015.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“The alleged recipient of the funds was an American citizen in his early 30s who had been arrested more than a year ago in Maryland after a lengthy Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance operation that found the first clues to the suspected network.
“The government had alleged in a 2016 indictment that the American suspect, Mohamed Elshinawy, pledged allegiance to Islamic State and had pretended to sell computer printers on eBay as a cover to receive payments through PayPal, potentially to fund terror attacks.
“The recently unsealed FBI affidavit, filed in federal court in Baltimore, alleges that Mr. Elshinawy was part of a global network stretching from Britain to Bangladesh that used similar schemes to fund Islamic State.
“The U.S. has said Mr. Elshinawy told investigators he was instructed to use the money for “operational purposes” in the U.S., such as a possible terror attack. He has pleaded not guilty to supporting the terror group, and currently is in federal custody awaiting trial. His lawyer declined to comment.”
The paper points out that the case suggests how the Islamic State is trying to exploit holes in the vast online financial world to finance terror outside its borders.
An eBay spokesman told news organizations that “eBay has zero tolerance for criminal activity on our marketplace and we worked with law enforcement to bring this individual to justice.”
A PayPal spokeswoman told the Journal that the company works “to prevent terrorist activity on our platform.”