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Toronto man charged in probe into alleged ISIS fundraising campaigns disguised as humanitarian aid

Accused, 34, was arrested Wednesday under Extradition Act, police tell CBC Toronto

A Toronto man has been charged along with three others in an FBI investigation into an alleged scheme to raise money for ISIS using a series of online campaigns disguised as humanitarian efforts.

The U.S. Department of Justice says the 34-year-old man was arrested by Canadian police Wednesday under a provisional arrest request, often the first step in the extradition process. 

He is facing charges in the U.S., along with three Americans, for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. The charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

In an email to CBC Toronto, the Department of Justice Canada confirmed the man is from North York and was arrested in Toronto on Wednesday. His first court appearance took place before the Ontario Superior Court the same day and he was expected to appear in court again Friday. 

Toronto police told CBC Toronto the man was identified as being wanted by authorities and was taken into custody by the force’s fugitive squad. He remains in detention in Toronto pending an extradition hearing and does not face any criminal charges in Canada, spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said.

U.S. officials allege the Canadian was part of an encrypted social media group chat of ISIS supporters where members discussed posting donation links that appeared to support humanitarian causes but were actually intended to aid ISIS militants.

From February 2021 to July 2022, the accused allegedly raised more than $35,000 through cryptocurrency and other electronic means to Bitcoin wallets and accounts they believed to be funding ISIS.

Officials allege the Toronto man created multiple GoFundMe campaigns purportedly for humanitarian causes and allegedly contributed $20,347 US to a cryptocurrency address tied to the terrorist group.

Officials also allege a man behind the cryptocurrency address discussed giving money to support ISIS fighters with a confidential source and allegedly told the source the charitable descriptions in fundraising campaigns were intended to deceive would-be donors.

“As alleged, this crowdfunding network used cryptocurrency, Bitcoin wallets, GoFundMe and PayPal to collect and raise blood money to support ISIS, not for needy families as they falsely claimed in their attempt to deceive law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York said in a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

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