A Bangladeshi couple based in Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty in a US federal court to providing support to family members who joined IS in Syria.
The US Attorney's Office announced that Shahidul Gaffar, 40, a naturalised US citizen, and his wife Nabila Khan, 35, a legal permanent resident, admitted to charges of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the terrorist organisation.
They each face a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release, reports bdnews24.com.
Court documents show that in 2015, Gaffar and Khan provided financial support to two of Khan’s brothers, identified only by the initials JK and IK, who travelled to Syria to join ISIS fighters.
Gaffar and Khan discussed the brothers’ travel plans in detail with each other, as well as with the brothers and other family members, as early as September 2014.
Gaffar, who remained in Pennsylvania, sent supportive messages to Khan’s mother stating: “Be [p]roud mother for the noble cause and for the sake of Allah!!!”
Khan’s second brother, IK, went to the US on a student visa and resided with her and Gaffar in Pennsylvania from June 2014 until February 2015, when he returned to Bangladesh. Over the next few months, Khan, who was still in Bangladesh, observed IK watching terrorist propaganda videos featuring Anwar al-Awlaki, a designated global terrorist and key leader of IS.
Around the same time, Gaffar began sending international money transfers to IK in Bangladesh, according to the unsealed documents.
In early July 2015, IK travelled to Syria to join IS. The next day, Gaffar and Khan discussed via electronic messages how she had tried to give IK more money right before he left, and days later, she exchanged multiple electronic messages with a family member discussing her brother’s arrival in Syria and reunion there with JK.
Gaffar sent reassuring messages to Khan, stating that it was “cool” that she had been able to observe IK’s radical Islamist “changes” from “beginning to end.”
IK was ultimately killed in the fighting in Syria in March 2019.
“The defendants encouraged and supported Nabila Khan’s brothers joining the murderous terrorist group ISIS, which is a direct threat to the safety and security of the United States,” said US Attorney McSwain.