US and Australian officials concerned over terrorist cryptocurrency use
Officials from the Australian and US governments have called for further action against the national security threats posed by cryptocurrencies.
At a counter-terrorism conference in Melbourne today, the Australian Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, said that “the anonymity afforded by such technologies enables terrorist financiers to obfuscate their activities.”
“The increasing use of digital and crypto-currencies, stored-value cards, online payment systems and crowd-funding platforms provide new channels through which terrorism may be financed.”
Mitt Romney, the Republican US Senator who ran for president back in 2008, feels the same way. “I don’t begin to understand how cryptocurrency works,” he started, humbly, speaking to national security leaders at the U.S. Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs earlier this week.
“I would think it is more difficult to carry out your work when we can’t follow the money because the money is hidden from us and wonder whether there should not be some kind of effort taken in our nation to deal with cryptocurrency.’
These concerns echo a report released in August by Washington, DC-based Middle Eastern Media Research Institute (MEMRI). In its report, it found that ISIS, Al-Qaida, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood all use cryptocurrencies to finance attacks.
Another, SadaqaCoins, says the report, is a crypto crowdfunding platform for international jihad. It solicits crypto donations to help pay for weapons like a .50 caliber bolt action sniper rifle: “The enemys [sic] worst nightmare. One shot, One kill.”
And last month, Telegram’s @ISISWatch channel blocked 7,431 terrorist bots and channels, many of which the head of MEMRI, Steven Stalinksy said are used to mount cryptocurrency campaigns.
In fact, Stalinksy told Decrypt that the governments are “very ill-prepared”, and though a task force to fight terrorist use of cryptocurrencies was set up by the US government in January of last year, governments are “generally a year or two behind everything.”