US Disrupts Three Cyber-Enabled Terror Campaigns

The US government has made its largest ever seizure of cryptocurrency associated with terrorism after three alleged cyber-enabled terrorist financing campaigns were dismantled. 

The global disruption of campaigns involving Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) was announced yesterday by the Department of Justice. 

Each group was allegedly found to have used cryptocurrency and social media to raise their online profile and attract donations to fund their terror campaigns. In accordance with judicially authorized warrants, US authorities seized millions of dollars, over 300 cryptocurrency accounts, four websites and four Facebook pages.

In 2019, Al-Qassam Brigades allegedly posted a call for Bitcoin donations to fund its terror campaign on its social media page. The request was then made via the group’s official websites, alqassam.net, alqassam.ps and qassam.ps.

Included on their websites was a video claiming that benefactors could send money anonymously by using unique Bitcoin addresses generated for each individual donor. However, the IRS, HSI and FBI agents were able to track and seize all 150 cryptocurrency accounts that allegedly laundered funds to and from the al-Qassam Brigades’ accounts.

“While these individuals believe they operate anonymously in the digital space, we have the skill and resolve to find, fix and prosecute these actors under the full extent of the law,” said acting United States attorney Michael Sherwin.  

A second campaign run by al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups allegedly solicited cryptocurrency donations via a Bitcoin money laundering network operated using Telegram channels and other social media platforms.

In some instances, the terrorists allegedly posed as charities to attract donations that were actually intended to fund violent terrorist attacks. 

The third disrupted campaign involved an alleged scheme by ISIS facilitator Murat Cakar to fund ISIS by selling fake personal protective equipment via FaceMaskCenter.com.

“It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.   

“We will prosecute their money laundering, terrorist financing and violent illegal activities wherever we find them and, as announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible.” 

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