Cryptocurrencies have piqued the interest of terrorists – but they continue to play almost no role in financing terrorist attacks. This is the conclusion reached by reports from Europol and an American think tank.
For anyone who observes Bitcoin and cybercrime, the annual “Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA)” report from Europol is likely be a highlight. In this report, the highest European police force shows how cybercrime is developing. Bitcoin has also appeared regularly in this report for a number of years.
The IOCTA report for 2018 could be summarized with the word “stagnation”. Not much has changed since 2017. The fact that Bitcoin’s share of the total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies has fallen significantly “is not reflected in the cybercrime investigations in the EU. Bitcoin remains the most commonly encountered cryptocurrency. ”However, some member states stress that“ there is a weak trend towards more private currencies such as Monero or Zcash ”. But this, too, has been feared for at least a year.
Ransomware remains a nuisance, but is being displaced more and more by cryptomining malware, which is probably less uncomfortable for the victims. There have been a few cases of child pornography involving Bitcoin, but the cryptocurrency is “not overly popular,” as the report notes.The reason the authors suspect is the inability to anonymously exchange bitcoins for euros, which is why other mobile payment methods are more popular.
Also the darknet markets, those online bazaars that mostly sell drugs for bitcoins and others Cryptocurrencies trading appear to be stagnating after police shut down the Alphabay market. Trading subsequently shifted to other markets, “but even together these markets did not reach Alphabay’s earlier size. This suggests that there is a general decline in dark web activity. Industry reports confirm this by showing that the value of Bitcoin transactions around darknet markets has fallen by two thirds after the operation. ”Europol has already noted this stagnation in darknet markets in a joint report with the European drug center. Bitcoin seems to be on the way to shedding its dirty image. Why it happened, or what can influence it, you can read here https://cryptoine.com/what-is-bitcoin-and-how-does-it-work/.
Terrorists use Bitcoins at best for their online infrastructure
The IOCTA report devotes around two pages to Bitcoin and terrorism. Cryptocurrencies were a possible source for terrorist groups to generate revenue and quickly send it across borders without having to pass the usual checks by banks. “The Islamic State recognized the advantages of cryptocurrencies as early as 2014, but it did not happen before the end of 2017 that IS sympathizers on websites and in chats widely appealed for donations in cryptocurrencies (in Bitcoin and the anonymous Zcash).“For example, the pro-IS websites Akhbar al-Muslimin and Dawaalhaq Islamic News Agency asked for donations in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at the end of 2017. IS-related sites have also tried to get cryptocoins through cryptomining malware.
Most donations were used, according to the report, to increase online infrastructure such as domains or hosting services to buy. The purchase of such services with Bitcoins is now standard and is also used by the Russian secret service. However, Europol has also observed a group that addressed Muslims living in the West in English and asked them to donate to the maintenance and arming of Syrian fighters. “But despite this clear potential, not a single attack on European soil was financed with crypto currencies.” The most important source of money for terrorists continues to be bank transfers and international money-sending service providers.
Cryptocurrencies are bad money for jihadists
Our colleagues across the Atlantic should agree with this representation. Yaya Fanusie, a director of the “Center for Sanctions and Illegal Finance”, which resides under the umbrella of the “Foundation for the Defense of Democracy”, filed a report before the “United States House Committee on Financial Services”. The institution also known as the “House Banking Committee” is a committee of the House of Representatives of the USA and is responsible for the supervision of the entire financial services industry.
Fanusie now stated that al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and others Terror groups had tried several times to collect donations through cryptocurrencies – but had not had much success. A group called the “Council of the Mujahideen Shura around Jerusalem” was able to collect as much as 500 dollars during an online campaign that ran over weeks in 2016. Crypto is bad money for jihadists because they usually need cash to buy things in areas with inadequate technical infrastructure, says Fanusie. Good old cash, on the other hand, is still attractive because it not only works everywhere, but is also completely anonymous.
The expert also believes that the US should prepare for it to become a increased use of cryptocurrencies by terrorists is coming. This will allow the country to prevent the digital money markets from becoming a haven for illegal finance.So it is already a matter of preventing terrorists from using Bitcoins to protect Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The public perception …
It confirms again and again that Bitcoin continues to be used to an insignificant extent by terrorists almost ten years after its birth. As always, cash and bank transfers are the means of choice for making private or anonymous donations to terrorist organizations. Actually, this should slowly reach the public perception.