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Is BTC really used to finance terrorism and illegal activities?

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About use BTC and cryptocurrencies for terrorist financing and criminal purposes have long been debated.

Anonymity and speed of transfer are weapons that BTC offers to criminals and terrorists

Some countries, such as Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea, use cryptocurrencies to circumvent the strict embargo imposed by the international community. The considerable anonymity of cryptocurrencies is perfectly suited for those who want to commit illegal activities.

The fact that the promotion of terrorism, especially Islamist terrorism, is now also taking place online makes digital currencies a useful tool for financing these criminal activities.

On July 6, police in Leicester arrested Hisham Chaudhary, a supporter of Islamic jihad, who was accused of sending thousands of dollars in a BTC terrorist group operating in Syria.

In 2020, Israeli authorities discovered the address of a virtual BTC wallet linked to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, to which about $ 28 million flowed in two years, probably used to fund the group’s terrorist activities.

43% of BTC transactions are used for crime

According to an analysis by the University of Sydney, it is estimated that 43% of BTC transactions are used for crime (about $ 72 billion).

Rob Wainwright, a former director of Europol, recently said that cryptocurrencies account for about 3-4 billion euros, which is about 3-4% of the illegally earned revenue that was laundered in Europe alone each year.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the first major international virtual currency laundering scandal took place in 2013, laundering $ 6 billion from illegal transactions related to drug trafficking, investment fraud, credit card fraud and data theft.

The interest of global Islamic terrorist groups such as Daesh or Al Qaeda in cryptocurrencies is not new; analyze and promote their use since the first launch of this modern financial instrument.

The fact that the transfers are anonymous and immediate makes them perfect for financing criminal or terrorist activities. Prior to BTC’s invention, a network was used that also guaranteed anonymity, Hawala, but was more expensive and slower than money transfers via cryptocurrencies.

Special forces and laws to combat illegal financing

Financial and law enforcement agencies are increasingly focusing on the investigation of digital currency-funded crime. In 2019, to cope with this increase in the use of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups, the United States created a law that formed a working group on financial technology, specifically to track suspicious money movements.

In 2019, Australia passed the “Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act”, which for the first time created a technology working group to monitor the movement of money in digital currency. Similar structures have been set up in Korea, the United Kingdom and Estonia.

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