According to Yaya Fanusie, a former CIA official and current Director at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think tank group, there’s been an acute uptick in bitcoin being funneled to extremist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Queda.
And while Fanusie notes the funding is still modest at present, it’s clear the flurry of activity as of late has undoubtedly been generated by the mainstream attention the surging bitcoin price has caused in 2017.
Fanusie’s methodology was simple; she perused extremist websites, regularly prowling for bitcoin addresses listed out for donations. In months of searching, Fanusie never came upon any hits until just recently — after the bitcoin price eclipsed $10,000 USD coincidentally.
“My theory is the attention to bitcoin has probably led to certain groups taking a look at the technology.”
“[…] If you care about cryptocurrency gaining adoption, you can’t close your eyes to illicit actors trying to use it. If they’re going to use it we need to look at this as a society and a government to understand what it means.”
For example, the researcher found one instance in which 0.0757 BTC was transferred to an ISIS-created address for the purposes of helping to build a new military training camp. At press time, the funds still hadn’t been moved from the identified address.
Now, these revelations aren’t particularly damning; but they do suggest the exploding attention around cryptocurrencies is starting to catch the watchful eyes of terrorists.
Prosecutor: Long Island woman laundered money for ISIS via Bitcoin, planned to join terror group in Syria https://t.co/AWbBEWQfT6
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) December 14, 2017
That dynamic could alone be enough to be have regulators’ heads spinning the world over.
And it’s a dynamic that could be used to justify further crackdowns on innocent cryptocurrency investors.
TLDR: An American think tank has identified extremist sites using bitcoin addresses. The problem is still small for now, but will it always be?