Terrorism financiers may try to use virtual currencies such as bitcoin to fund their operations as authorities crack down on the flow of illicit money through more traditional channels, the US Treasury Department said.
“Terrorist groups may use these new payment systems to transfer funds collected in the United States to terrorist groups and their supporters,” the Treasury said in a report. The department cited as an example a blog post linked to Islamic State that proposed using bitcoin to fund global jihadist efforts.
Almost 14 years after the September 11 attacks, the government has made it harder for terrorists to use the US and international banking system. So groups such as Islamic State are reaching for new payment methods that offer anonymity and using social media to raise funds, the Treasury said in the National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, in Washington.
“The growth of online communication networks, including social media, has opened up new avenues for terrorists and their supporters to solicit directly, and receive funds from, US residents,” the Treasury said.
The report, the first attempt by the Treasury to provide a comprehensive summary of terrorist financing methods and risks to the US financial system and national security, also points to people claiming to be raising money for charitable purposes as potential risks, according to the report.
“A notable trend in this sector has seen individuals unaffiliated with any charitable organisation recognised by the US government raise funds for terrorist organisations under the auspices of charity, with outreach through social media playing a key role,” the report stated. That’s playing out in countries where fighting continues, it said.
“The Syrian conflict has seen a significant use of the Internet and social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to solicit sizable donations that include support to designated terrorist organisations and their supporters,” according to