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Cryptocurrency-fueled pro-ISIS fundraising campaigns exposed in Asia

TL;DR

  • A recent report by TRM Labs highlights ISIS’s increased use of cryptocurrencies in Asia.
  • TRM Labs uncovers on-chain evidence linking pro-ISIS networks in Tajikistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to cryptocurrency activities.
  • Tether (USDT) on Tron emerges as a preferred choice for funding pro-ISIS campaigns, leading to arrests and disruption of operations.

A recent report by blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs highlighted an increasing use of cryptocurrency by ISIS and its supporters across Asia. TRM Labs found corroborating on-chain evidence over the past year, indicating that pro-ISIS networks in Tajikistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have leveraged cryptocurrencies to facilitate their activities. Most of these transactions were conducted using Tether (USDT) on the Tron network (TRX), a growing trend in this space.

In Tajikistan, multiple pro-ISIS groups have been identified using cryptocurrency, including recruiting fighters to join ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan (ISKP). A fundraising campaign active for over a year received around USD 2 million in USDT on Tron in 2022. The exchange used by the group to cash out some of their funds was alerted by TRM Labs, leading to the disruption of their activities and the arrest of a senior ISIS fundraiser.

Cryptocurrency facilitating pro-ISIS fundraising campaigns

In Indonesia, over USD 517,000 was sent in 2022 by individuals using a local exchange to addresses identified by TRM Labs as belonging to pro-ISIS fundraising campaigns in Syria. These campaigns claim to support and help free ISIS families held in Syrian camps. All these transfers were made using USDT on Tron.

A media unit linked to ISIS’s affiliate in Pakistan (ISPP) began promoting its ability to accept donations in the second half of 2022. Addresses controlled by the group had a total volume of around USD 40,000 over the last 12 months. They appear to have exploited the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria in February 2023 to raise funds.

In Afghanistan, the al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production (al-Azaim), the media unit of the ISIS affiliate (ISKP), was identified using cryptocurrency to fund its operations and/or to receive funds from supporters. TRM Labs identified on-chain links between addresses controlled by al-Azaim and addresses controlled by the Pakistan-based group.

Undoubtedly, terrorist and insurgent groups have been using crypto to finance their operations. Israel has seized approximately 190 cryptocurrency accounts on the Binance exchange since 2021, including two linked to Islamic State and many others owned by Palestinian firms associated with the Islamist Hamas group, according to documents released by Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF). The seizures aim to disrupt Islamic State activities and impede its objectives. The document did not disclose the value of the seized crypto or how the accounts were linked to the Islamic State. 

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

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