Report: ISIS using Bitcoin to launder terror donations

Islamic terror organizations are using the virtual currency to mask their fundraising and transfer of funds around the globe.   

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

The Akhbar al-Muslimin website, which is affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group, has recently launched a campaign to elicit donations for the terror organization to be paid out in Bitcoin.

The donations are allegedly for the website, but the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) believes that they may be used for funding ISIS’ activities, one of which is rehabilitating its propaganda machine, and even possibly for funding terrorist attacks abroad.

The Akhbar al-Muslimin website has been active since 2015. In mid-2017 it ceased its operations. The ITIC estimates that this is because of the blow dealt to ISIS in Syria.

The site publishes reports and pictures about attacks carried out by ISIS terrorists. It contains relatively updated information, although less than it did a year ago when it had daily reports, probably because of the damage done to ISIS’s propaganda machine.

During the past year, there have been reports about ISIS and other terrorist organizations using Bitcoins. The advantages of using Bitcoins are that the donations are anonymous, readily available as a virtual currency and can easily be transferred anywhere around the globe, including to and from remote areas in Afghanistan, Yemen and Africa, without exposure.

This leads terrorist organizations to make extensive use of the virtual currency. In effect, the use of Bitcoins makes it possible to transfer large sums without the oversight of banks while avoiding international regulations against money laundering.

The ITIC believes that the drive on the Akhbar al-Muslimin website is further evidence of ISIS’ severe financial hardship, following the loss of its economic assets, mainly the oil and gas fields in Iraq and Syria, and the collapse of the caliphate.

Its infamous propaganda machine was also damaged, which in the ITIC’s assessment is in urgent need of funds.

The ITIC is a Tel-Aviv based intelligence research body with close ties to Israel’s intelligence community.