US Government Seize Bitcoin Terrorism Funding for Islamic State and Al-Qaeda

Brian Njuguna  Aug 14, 2020 10:00  UTC 02:00

2 Min Read

The US Justice Department has revealed that it has seized Bitcoin and cryptocurrency worth millions of dollars intended to fund the activities of terror groups like the military arm of Hamas, the Islamic State, and Al-Qaeda. This breakthrough is the largest clampdown on online terrorist fundraising, according to The Washington Post. 

300 cryptocurrency accounts scrutinized

Apart from the captured funds, the US officials also disclosed that they had attained court orders to get hold of 300 cryptocurrency accounts, four Facebook pages, and four websites linked to the alleged terror fundraising. 

They also noted that Al-Qaeda groups mainly in Syria were to be financed using laundered Bitcoin. The funding organizations in question solicited Bitcoin donations using social media platforms like Telegram.

According to the US government’s court filing, the appeal for donations was at times disguised as charity work if the message didn’t sink in that the money was to be used to purchase weapons. 

Quest for Bitcoin donations

The US authorities noted that they thoroughly investigated the military wing of Hamas called Al-Qassam Brigades after it posted a request for Bitcoin donations on its social media page as they were untraceable and could be channeled for violent causes. They were able to lay hold of 150 accounts linked to this fundraising effort.

Steven T. Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, noted:

“Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies.”

In another case, Murat Cakar was charged for being an orchestrator of the Islamic State. He was the mastermind of a coronavirus-related scam, which coerced victims that it was selling protective masks.

In May, blockchain analysis company Chainalysis indicated that ISIS was not hoarding $300 million Bitcoin war-chest. This revelation came in the wake of allegations that this terror group using crypto platforms to bypass financial security measures and conceal donations. 


Image source: Shutterstock

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