Security Experts Said Terrorists are Hoarding Money in Bitcoin

November 30, 2015         By: Asif Imtiaz

The co-founder of a national security advisory company Kronos Advisory, Michael K. Smith II, told the media that counter-terrorism officials of the United States are seriously worried about the use of modern financial tools by the Islamic State.

The United States already knew that ISIS is acquiring gold from its illegal oil trade, but after the Paris attack a number of activist groups mentioned in the media that the attacks were partly funded by using digital currencies.

Mr. Smith claimed that one of the members of GhostSec, a Hacktivist group, told him that they have discovered one of the ISIS owned Bitcoin account that contained well over $3 million. According to him, GhostSec would very much look forward to rock the boat in terms of taking the war to the ISIS. “[GhostSec] wants to make an impact in counter-terrorism,” said Mr. Smith.

Since the use of Bitcoin does not require any third party intermediary to conduct international transactions and it is very hard to trace the actual owners of the Bitcoin wallets, it could be the first choice for terrorists to store their money in. Then, they can easily cash out the funds in any corner of the world and carry out whatever plan they have in any country without leaving any financial trace.

“Countries have gotten very good at tracking terror financing in the years since 9/11. [Terrorist] Networks have looked for new ways to do it, and it appears they’ve found it in Bitcoin,” said Morgan Wright, a senior fellow at the Center for Digital Government.

ISIS is one of the well-funded terrorist organizations and United States Treasury Department made an estimate that ISIS generates around $500 million in revenue per year. According to GhostSec, ISIS is holding around $5 to $15 million worth of funds in digital currencies and Bitcoin is their first choice because of its popularity and portability.