According to a recent report by blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs, terrorist groups around the world, including those linked to ISIS, often use cryptocurrency for fundraising purposes. In some instances, these terrorist organizations were able to attract supporters and strengthen their operations.
TRM Labs revealed observing “mounting on-chain evidence” over the past 12 months that pro-ISIS networks in countries such as Tajikistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have used crypto assets to facilitate their activities. Almost all transactions related to the cases below were made using the Tether (USDT) stablecoin on the Tron network (TRX).
Pro-ISIS Terror Organizations Using Crypto
Many recruited fighters have been lured to join ISIS’ affiliate in Afghanistan (ISKP) with the help of crypto. One such fundraising campaign has been active for over a year and controls an address that received nearly $2 million in USDT on Tron in 2022.
TRM Labs claimed to have hacked the campaign, leading Turkish authorities to arrest Shamil Hukumatov, a senior ISIS fundraiser last month who was allegedly behind it.
More than $517k was sent in 2022 to individuals using an Indonesia-based crypto platform to addresses flagged as belonging to pro-ISIS fundraising campaigns in Syria and the local exchanges that facilitate their activities. In this case, as well, TRM Labs found that all these transfers were made using USDT on Tron.
During the latter half of 2022, a media unit associated with the ISPP, the Pakistani affiliate of the notorious terrorist organization, began promoting its ability to receive donations. The entity was founded in 2019 and is responsible for several attacks in Pakistan, mainly targeting local security forces.
ISPP tried to take advantage of the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria to raise funds by posting various cryptocurrency addresses previously flagged by TRM Labs as being linked to terrorist entities.
The media unit of ISIS’ affiliate in Afghanistan also uses cryptocurrency to fund its operations and/or to receive funds from supporters, according to TRM Labs
The Syria Link
TRM Labs’ findings on the aforementioned on-chain information ultimately connect pro-ISIS fundraising campaigns in Syria. The intelligence platform believes that the war-torn country remains a key center for the use of cryptocurrency by ISIS and its supporters.
The investigation also revealed that a large chunk of the donations were directed to ISIS families in camps such as al-Hol and Roj and the local cryptocurrency exchange that facilitated their activities.
“Tracing these campaigns, tracking donations on the blockchain, and identifying donors is critical to expanding and potentially disrupting pro-ISIS networks around the world.”
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