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Bangladeshi couple in the US sentenced for funding Islamic State

Shahidul Gaffar, Nabila Khan, United States Department of Justice, Anwar al-Awlaki, United States, Islamic State, ISIS, Bangladesh


Bangladeshi couple in the US sentenced for funding Islamic State

According to media reports, Shahidul Gaffar, a naturalized citizen, and his wife, Nabila Khan, a legal permanent resident, both from Bangladesh, were sentenced to federal prison for sending nearly US$5,600 to Khan’s brothers, who happen to be Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist.

Detailing the case of the Bangladeshi couple, Attorney’s office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under the United States Department of Justice said:


Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Shahidul Gaffar, 40, and Nabila Khan, 35, both residents of Pennsylvania, were sentenced to 18 months and two years in prison, respectively, by United States District Court Judge Joshua D. Wolson for conspiracy to provide material support and resources to ISIS, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Judge Wolson also sentenced both defendants to three years of supervised release.

According to court documents, in 2015, Gaffar and Khan, a married couple originally from Bangladesh, provided and attempted to provide financial support to two of Khan’s brothers who traveled 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. In January 2015, Khan asked her sister living in Bangladesh to sell some of Khan’s gold and provide the money to their oldest brother, J.K., in order to assist him in travelling to Syria. Khan then flew to Bangladesh to wish J.K. farewell before his departure in February 2015. 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!!!” 


Further, Khan’s second brother, I.K., had come to the United States on a student visa and resided with Khan 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 I.K. watching terrorist propaganda videos featuring Anwar al-Awlaki, a designated global terrorist who is now deceased. Around the same time, Gaffar began sending international money transfers to I.K. in Bangladesh. These funds had multiple purposes, but one was to support I.K.’s travel to Syria to join ISIS.

In June 2015, Gaffar sent a message to Khan, stating: “Let [I.K.] know that I will manage and send 3000 dollars if Allah wills. Let’s help him, my love, for the good cause who knows that might be enough to get forgiveness from Allah and accept[ance] [in]to heaven.” In July 2015, Gaffar continued to communicate with Kahn regarding the conspiracy, saying in part: “I feel bad for mom and dad, at the same time, I feel very proud. [W]hat a lucky mom and dad.”


In early July 2015, I.K. traveled to Syria to join ISIS. The next day, Gaffar and Khan discussed via electronic messages how Khan had tried to give I.K. more money right before he left, and days later, Kahn exchanged multiple electronic messages with a family member discussing I.K.’s arrival in Syria and reunion there with J.K. Gaffar sent reassuring messages to Khan, stating that it was “cool” that she had been able to observe I.K.’s radical Islamist “changes” from “beginning to end.”

According to court documents, in May 2016, Khan received an electronic message that I.K. had been wounded in the fighting in Syria, and in August 2016, Khan’s mother sent a message to Kahn with photographs of I.K.’s wounds sustained while in Syria. In September 2016, I.K. changed his online social media account profile picture to an image depicting himself, his brother and another male sitting in front of the black ISIS flag with firearms on a table in front of them, overtly identifying himself and his brother as members of ISIS. I.K. was ultimately killed in the fighting in Syria in March 2019.


“This case draws into sharp focus the first priority of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office: protecting our Nation from all security threats,” said Acting United States Attorney Williams. “The defendants encouraged and financially supported the efforts of Nabila Kahn’s brothers to join the murderous terrorist group ISIS, which is a direct threat to the United States. The public can rest assured that our Office is working tirelessly every day to protect all Americans from the threat of terrorism.”

“Money and manpower are the lifeblood of terror groups like ISIS,” said Bradley S. Benavides, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Gaffar and Khan, while enjoying all the rights and privileges of living in America, conspired to support violent extremists who consider our country their sworn enemy. Know that FBI Philadelphia’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is working diligently around the clock to detect and disrupt anyone whose beliefs have crossed the line into terrorist activity.”


The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Wolfe and Robert Livermore.

In November 2020, media reports said, Shahidul Gaffar, 40, and Nabila Khan, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist organization. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer: Shahidul Gaffar, 40, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and his wife, Nabila Khan, 35, a legal permanent resident, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization”.


…The financial support, amounting to several thousand dollars, according to the newly unsealed information, aided two of Khan’s brothers, identified only by the initials JK and IK. Both men moved to Syria to join ISIS fighters. IK was killed in fighting last year, prosecutors said.

The conspiracy dates to 2015 and also involves Khan’s mother, identified as YPK, who lived in Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia during the conspiracy, and Khan’s twin sister, NK, who lived in Bangladesh, prosecutors said.


IK, the brother who was killed last year, had come to the United States in 2013 on a student visa to attend school and later lived with Gaffar and Khan from around June 2014 until about February 2015, prosecutors said.

US Attorney William M. McSwain said in a statement: “The defendants encouraged and supported Nabila Kahn’s brothers joining the murderous terrorist group ISIS, which is a direct threat to the safety and security of the United States”.


Case of another ISIS-funder Khan in Britain

While Nabila Khan and her husband are now serving imprisonment in the US for sending fund to Islamic State members, and Khan’s mother and other family members in Bangladesh are also reported to be involved with the jihadist network, an ISIS funder and convicted criminal named Shahid Uddin Khan and his family members, who also are convicted by Bangladeshi court for terror financing are living in the United Kingdom, while the British authorities are yet to take any steps in deporting this jihad-funding family to Bangladesh.

Recently, ISIS-funder Shahid Uddin Khan’s name resurfaced in the media following seizure of a huge volume of heroin by the Sri Lankan Navy. According to media report, the sacked Bangladeshi military officer’s name has once again come under the radars of ant-terrorism and anti-narcotic organizations in Sri Lanka and few other countries in the world, including India and Britain. Recently Sri Lankan Navy has arrested seven individuals and recovered 336 kg of heroin from their possession. It may be mentioned here that, few year ago, Indian intelligence agencies began investigation into a nexus between Bangladeshi sacked military officer Shahid Uddin Khan and notorious mafia don Dawood Ibrahim.


Although Shahid Uddin Khan’s connections with Dawood Ibrahim and his D Company has already been proved beyond doubt and it is also proved that the nexus in involved in smuggling Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), investigative reporters of Blitz have also proved Shahid Uddin Khan’s involvement in drug trafficking.

The last seizure of heroin consignment in Sri Lanka is just another evidence of Shahid Uddin Khan, Dawood Ibrahim and their jihadist cohort’s dependence of drug trafficking as one of the ways of generating fund for terror financing. In Bangladesh, Shahid Uddin Khan and his wife Farjana Anjum Khan are already convicted by Bangladeshi courts on specific allegations of their active involvement in funding terrorist entities such as Islamic State (ISIS). Khan, along with his family members are on run and currently living in the United Kingdom. Interpol has issued ‘Red Notice’ on these most-wanted criminals.


It was also reported in the media that Shahid Uddin Khan had funded jihadist attacks in Sri Lanka. Media reports said, four months before the Sri Lanka attacks, ISIS funder Md. Shahid Uddin Khan had sent large amount of money to his Colombo-based jihadist contact via Dubai.

Shahid Uddin Khan (Army No: BA002428, Course: 8-BMA, Commission Date: 10-06-1983) and his wife and daughters entered Britain with millions of dirty cash.

According to credible sources, in 2009, Shahid Uddin Khan invested millions of pounds in the United Kingdom in exchange of obtaining immigrant status under Visa Tier 1, vide VAF No. 511702. The family had laundered an unknown amount of money and brought that into the United Kingdom via United Arab Emirates and few more countries, while Shahid Uddin Khan had invested over 18 million pounds for buying citizenship under Britain’s scandalous ‘Golden Visa’ scheme.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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