Komal Joshi · Oct 21, 2020 . 6min read
US DOJ Seizes Cryptocurrency Accounts of Big Terrorist Organizations
Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) were all clamped down by US DOJ
By Victor Ugochukwu · Aug 14, 2020 . 8min read
In a swift and decisive move, the United States Department of Justice – DOJ announces the seize of cryptocurrency accounts of three major terrorist organizations. All of them are based in the middle east.
A press release yesterday from the DOJ exposed the names, methods it employed along with the volume of cryptocurrency in the account. It further stated that the accounts are under its control.
Listing out the names, the US DOJ said three terrorist financing cyber-enabled campaigns were tracked and brought down. These are the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) were all clamped down. It claims its actions on the terrorist groups represent the government’s largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrency in the terrorism context.
How the US DOJ agencies tracked down the cryptocurrency accounts of the respective terrorist organizations
To begin with, al-Qassam Brigades engaged in online cryptocurrency fundraising efforts to finance some of its covert terrorist operations. Naively, the terrorist group boasted of how untraceable Bitcoin transactions in its social media campaigns. It even went as far as making a “How to Donate” video. Apparently, it was unaware of the sophistication of crypto tracers. Chainalysis hinted on its assistance the IRS, HSI, and FBI in tracking the 150 transactions made from and to the terrorist wallet address. In the end, terrorist sympathizers seeking to donate to al-Qassam Brigades unknowingly donated to wallets controlled by the United States. Meanwhile, two Turkish individuals, Mehmet Akti and Hüsamettin Karataş, now face criminal charges. They acted as related money launderers while operating an unlicensed money transmitting business for these terrorist networks.
The next would be the notorious and dreaded al-Qaeda which was once headed by Osama Bin Laden. Using the privacy focused instant messenger Telegram, al-Qaeda, and affiliated terrorist groups based out of Syria operated a Bitcoin laundering scheme. While acting as charities, they were openly and explicitly soliciting funds for violent terrorist attacks. Some of their posts brazenly shows this:
Chainalysis reported on how the groups used multi-layered transactions to obfuscate movement of donations to a central hub of addresses. These groups then redistribute the funds to the individual groups. However, United States anti-terrorism and law enforcement agencies identified them. It says there are 155 virtual currency assets tied to this terrorist campaign and are now pushing for their forfeiture.
Tracking brings down cryptocurrency donations to ISIS.
Lastly, the DOJ tracked and seized a fraudulent COVID-19 website purporting to have unlimited N-95 protective mask in stock when, in fact, it doesn’t. Moreover, an ISIS facilitator ran and managed it. They said that the facilitator is responsible for managing selected ISIS hacking operations. Moreover he former is also involved in selling fake personal protective equipment via FaceMaskCenter.com.
The United States, through its DOJ, vows to track and bring down any cryptocurrency or terrorist scheme.
Secretary of the DOJ William Barr had this to say:
“It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas, The Department of Justice will employ all available resources to protect the lives and safety of the American public from terrorist groups. We will prosecute their money laundering, terrorist financing and violent, illegal activities wherever we find them.”William Barr
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