The Stack Archive

Researcher claims proof that Isis is funding its activities via Bitcoin

Thu 29 Jan 2015

A senior web-intelligence analyst in Singapore claims to have found proof that Islamic State (Isis) is following up practically on last year’s indications that it would use Bitcoin to fund its activities.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz [paywalled] reports that Ido Wulkan from Simulation Software & Technology (S2T) Pte Ltd has discovered substantial evidence of a US-based Isis cell using the increasingly popular cryptocurrency as a method of internecine payment between its operatives.

Wulkan had been conducting an ‘international jihad project’ when he came across the alleged fundraising site. He told Haaretz: “Due to the increasing efforts of social media websites to close Isis-related accounts it was estimated that global jihad activists would seek refuge in the dark web,”

The site is not named in the report, but is said to carry this message from user ‘Abu-Mustafa’:

“Many of us live within the United States, and some are prominent with the community on both coasts. We are currently working with recent reverts to Islam and generally training brothers to struggle to establish a new Islamic front both in the US and around the world.”

Abu-Mustafa is said to write that the cell only approves of Bitcoin donations. “There was smoke, and now we have found the fire,” Wulkan comments. The Bitcoin account associated with the cell is reported to have since been shut down by the FBI.

Wulkan claims to have located the fundraising site by gaining access to a non-public Turkish web forum, and says that the fundraising activity is carried out via the ‘dark web’ – which these days could be any one of a number of encrypted and difficult-to-intercept protocols and applications. The most famous of these is the U.S. Navy’s Tor browser and protocol, used by Edward Snowden to transmit his disclosure of the extent of the NSA’s espionage techniques; however many alternatives exist, including I2P, Freenet, iprediaOS and the messaging suite Tox; additionally there are numerous software suites based around The Onion Router (Tor) protocol, but which claim to be more resistant to exit-node monitoring.

Last year a blog was sent to Sky News entitled Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle, lauding the possibility of using the stateless currency to make untraceable payments to support its members. The blog said: “This allows our brothers stuck outside of the ardh Dawlatul-Islam to avoid government taxes along with secretly fund the mujahideen with no legal danger upon them…This system has the potential to revive the lost sunnah of donating to the mujahideen, it is simple, easy, and we ask Allah to hasten it’s usage for us,”

The document notes the use of the open sourced Dark Wallet to close up the relatively few holes in the potential anonymity of the Bitcoin/blockchain system. Click here [PDF] to read the entire statement sent to Sky.

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