An article in the New York Times suggests that Bitcoin cryptocurrency is increasing in popularity for funding terrorist groups. This article cited a research paper as its source, which was written by Steven Stalinsky. Stalinsky is the executive director of a nonprofit group, the Middle East Media Research Institute. This organization tracks communication from terrorist activity.
Cryptocurrency appeals to these groups because it allows them to avoid banks and other financial institutions as they seek to raise cash to fund their efforts. According to the Times, one such group, Hamas, created a website to collect donations from supporters. These donations are in Bitcoins. The site is simple with just one video which has been translated into seven languages to appeal for help with funding.
Hamas is a fundamentalist group from Palestine, which is based in the Gaza strip. It has two separate wings. One is the civilian side and the other is the military side, which has been listed as a terrorist organization in specific countries. For the US, it considers the entire group as a terrorist organization. The website was developed by the Qassam Brigades, which is the military side of the group.
According to the video, Bitcoin cannot be tracked, and it invites those who are interested in donating to send money to a Bitcoin wallet. They can go to a currency exchange office and have the funds deposited into the wallet. There is no indication on the video or elsewhere on the site of how the funds will be used. It does recommend they don’t tell that the money is going to a terrorist organization.
Consultants on crypto and its link to terrorism suggest that more instances of this type of situation will happen. Recently, a funding drive has been going on with terrorists working to win the support of those who don’t have a strong affiliation or to recruit individuals. The process is called outbidding.
Bitcoin began with a dubious link to online drug trafficking, but it has since overcome the image. In fact, it has recently received interest from investors. However, a connection with terrorism could create further issues with the currency and its reputation.