ISIS Makes Use of Bitcoin Anonymity


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The concept that bitcoin could be used to help fund terrorists has been a long-standing concern among law enforcement and government agencies worldwide. Indeed, many restrictions placed on the use of digital currencies stem from these concerns.
An ISIS-affiliated website has been recently seeking donations using Bitcoin. On January 15, 2019, the Akhbar al-Muslimin website posted a link to its virtual wallet, claiming the donations go to maintaining the site. However, they may serve the needs of ISIS, which lost most of its economic assets, according to an assessment by ITIC (the Meir Amit Intelligence & Information Center).
ISIS held a similar drive on Akhbar al-Muslimin in November 2017 but it came to an end after the exposure of the system of contributions.
The drive for donations is another example of the use ISIS makes of Bitcoin. The anonymity of trading in Bitcoin, its availability as a virtual currency and the fact that it can easily be traded world-wide without exposure allow ISIS (and other terrorist organizations) to use it extensively.
Using Bitcoin makes it possible to transfer funds (including donations to terrorist organizations) without organized bank regulations, making it possible to circumvent the regulations against money laundering, as assessed by ITIC on
The recently-posted link in the ISIS-affiliated website brings up a page with a link to VirWoX (the Virtual World Exchange), a legally-registered platform based in Austria for digital currency exchange.
Already in 2014, an ISIS-connected blog post outlined a use case for bitcoin as a vehicle for terrorist financing, noting that its pseudonymous transaction capability fits well within the needs of jihadist organizers, as reported by
In September 2018, the Europol (the EU law enforcement agency) noted that ISIS requested donations in Zcash and Bitcoin, using such cryptocurrency to purchase website domains, but concedes that terrorists did not finance any attacks on European soil with cryptocurrency directly, reports