Think Tank Believes ISIS Funding Is Hidden In Cryptocurrencies

Over $300 million in donations to ISIS could be concealed in cryptocurrency.

Shadowy figure with BTC
The anonymity and accessibility of cryptocurrency makes it an attractive mode of operations for terrorist groups.

Over 1.1 billion dirhams ($300 million) in donations to ISIS could be hidden in cryptocurrency, according to think tank The Counter Extremism Project.

The Counter Extremism Project is a nonprofit and non-governmental organisation that actively combats extremist groups. In a new report, entitled “Cryptocurrencies and the Financing of Terrorism: Threat Assessment and Regulatory Challenges,” they revealed that authorities have been searching for this missing fund since 2017.

“This would be an ideal storage mechanism until it is needed,” director Hans-Jakob Schindler told The National.

“If done right, it would be unfindable and unseizable for most governments.”

This is a likely assumption following the incident in March last year that a US woman was sentenced to 13 years in prison for sending around $150,000 to ISIS. The amount was paid through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

In addition, ISIS is also the first cryptocurrency group that has officially been prosecuted in court due to its cryptocurrency activities. A US teenager, Ali Shurki Amin, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for providing ISIS supporters with a manual on how to hide donations in Bitcoin.

The think tank also reports that there are “clear cases” of ISIS and Hamas using cryptocurrencies as early as 2014 for their nefarious activities.

Schindler believes that this puts increased pressure on EU governments to create a joint regulatory framework so that they can “be ahead of the curve” and preemptively work on regulations before it progresses any further.

More terrorist organisations are looking into digital currencies as a way to conceal their funds, as suggested in a research paper written by Steven Salinsky. In the paper, the director of the Middle East Research Institute explained that crypto fundraising is becoming more common in these circles since it fulfils the need to raise funds, as well as bypassing banks and other intermediaries at the same time.

These sentiments are echoed around the world. In November 2019, Australian and US officials have also urged further action against cryptocurrencies and the threat they pose to national security.

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