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Opening statements in trial of woman charged with financing terrorist groups in Syria through cryptocurrency

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(NEW YORK) — Opening statements are expected Tuesday in the trial of Victoria Jacobs, an Uzbekistan native who is charged with using cryptocurrency to fund Syrian-based terrorist groups and launder supporters’ contributions.

It is the first-ever terrorism financing trial in the New York State court system.

The six-count indictment, filed in January 2023, charged Jacobs with providing support for an act of terrorism, money laundering and other crimes.

“This complex case demonstrates the depth of knowledge and resources this Office has to combat terrorism and extremism in New York and throughout the globe,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said at the time.

Jacobs, who was known as Bakhrom Talipov, provided material support to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization, and provided more than $5,000 to the terrorist training group Malhama Tactical, which fought with and provided special tactical and military training to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the indictment said.

Jacobs allegedly laundered $10,661 on behalf of Malhama Tactical by receiving cryptocurrency and Western Union and MoneyGram wires from supporters around the globe and sending the funds to Bitcoin wallets controlled by Malhama Tactical. In addition to sending cryptocurrency, she also purchased Google Play gift cards for the organization, according to the indictment.

Jacobs pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In October 2018, the defendant saved notes on her cell phone, which the indictment quoted as saying “Assalamu aleykum my dear brothers and sisters, we currently are buildings new place (train camp), it’s getting cold and we need new place, who want help us and support can do this safely and anonymously by Bitcoin wallet. Send me DM for details. Retweet.”

In December 2019, Jacobs provided a comprehensive U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook to an online group – which she believed was associated with both Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and al-Qaeda affiliated Jihadist group Hurras al-Din – to facilitate their bomb-making efforts in Syria, the indictment said.

Prosecutors said Jacobs bought military-style combat knives, metal knuckles, and throwing-stars in August 2021 that were found in her Upper East Side apartment.

“Disturbingly, approximately one month later, on September 21-22, 2021, the defendant, in a Telegram chat, claimed to be a ‘brother’ who was ‘behind enemy lines’ and asked for prayers for the ‘courage, strength, guidance, and wisdom to carry out certain missions,'” Assistant District Attorney Edward Burns said.

“Along with these statements, defendant posted a 15-second video clip of an unknown person ominously moving around with a firearm. The timing of this post and the defendant’s acquisition of the weapons supports the conclusion that she intended to use the weapons in an unlawful manner.”

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