U.S. Disrupts Cryptocurrency Terror Funding Networks

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  • Various U.S. law enforcement agencies have worked together to dismantle three cryptocurrency terror funding networks
  • The well-known terror groups thought their crypto donations were anonymous, but authorities were able to trace them
  • Some are worried about the potential reach of authorities’ powers

U.S. authorities have announced the disruption of three cryptocurrency terror funding networks, representing the government’s largest-ever such seizure. Over 300 cryptocurrency accounts, four websites, and four Facebook pages all related to terrorist activities were all taken down in the move that saw millions of dollars in cryptocurrency seized.

Cryptocurrency Terror Funding Dealt a Blow

The three cryptocurrency terror funding networks involved Hamas’s military wing the al-Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The operation, a coordinated effort between the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and prosecutors from the D.C. United States Attorney’s Office and National Security Division, resulted in the largest ever haul of cryptocurrency seized in a terrorism context.

A report by the DoJ gave few details on how the terrorist organisations raised the funds, except to say that they all relied on “sophisticated cyber-tools, including the solicitation of cryptocurrency donations from around the world.” Each group “used cryptocurrency and social media to garner attention and raise funds for their terror campaigns”, said the DoJ, with the proceeds due to go to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund once the case is concluded.

Some Concerned About Government Reach

The seizure is a major coup for the authorities, who have been working hard to halt cryptocurrency terror funding networks, aided by advancements in blockchain tracing technology. According to the report, the terror groups thought that donations to their cause would be anonymous, but the agencies were able to track them and seize the funds, enforcing criminal search warrants on suspects as part of the process.

While the destruction of cryptocurrency terror funding networks is a welcome development, it does raise questions about how the state will use its newfound powers in the future, with some skeptical that they will be used appropriately: