A Bangladesh couple living in Pennsylvania has been sentenced to over two years in prison after it was found that they sent money to two relatives in Bangladesh to help them travel to Syria and join the Islamic State.

Shahidul Gaffar, a 40-year-old naturalized citizen, and his wife Nabila Khan, a 35-year-old permanent resident of the country, have been found guilty of helping fund Khan’s brothers in their journey to become fighters for the Islamic State, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Khan’s brother, Junaid Hasan Khan, reportedly talked about going to Syria to join the Islamic State. Nabila decided to travel to Bangladesh to give support to her family. At the same time, Ibrahim Khan, who was studying in New York, abandoned his studies after a break-up and also began talking about connecting with the Islamic State.

Gaffar allegedly sent money to Khan as a way to support her wife while overseas, but Ibrahim was able to pressure her enough to give him the money.

“The thought process was: Since we’ve already lost one brother, let’s not lose another,” Gaffar told the court. “We tried to solve our own problem. This is why I didn’t go to the police here. This is why I didn’t alert police there. We thought we could handle it ourselves.”

While the court has expressed sympathy for the couple’s predicament, they still received a heavy sentence to show others the consequences of supporting the Islamic State. Gaffar received 18 months in prison while Khan received a two-year sentence and possible deportation, ANI News reported.

“I do believe they are contrite,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah M. Wolfe said to the court. “Obviously, they’ve lost family members because of this. But I do think there’s an important message that needs to be sent: Material support [for terrorism], in any measure, is illegal and will not be ignored.”

Khan will serve her sentence first before Gaffar, as the staggered application of their sentencing will allow their four children to always have a guardian with them during the prison sentence.

A couple in Pennsylvania has been convicted of aiding terrorists for giving money to two brothers who used it to go to Syria and join the Islamic State. This is a representational image. Levi Meir Clancy/Unsplash.

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