ISIS Allies Used Crypto to Raise Millions: TRM Labs

Affiliates of the notorious terrorist organization use centralized exchanges, the blockchain intelligence firm said.

AccessTimeIconJul 21, 2023 at 3:10 p.m. UTC

Terrorist groups worldwide associated with terrorist group ISIS routinely use crypto for fundraising, which in some cases helped then secure supporters, blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs said in a new report.

According to TRM, multiple pro-ISIS groups in Tajikistan raised around $2 million in Tron-based USDT during 2022. They have been recruiting fighters for ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan, The Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP). The groups used an unnamed centralized exchange to cash out the funds, so TRM was able to trace the money and notify the exchange.

The exchange, in turn, identified the user and reported him to the local authorities. As a result, on June 22, senior ISIS fundraiser Shamil Hukumatov was arrested in Turkey, TRM wrote.

Another pro-ISIS group raised over $517,000 using an account on an Indonesia-based exchange, according to TRM. The campaign was aimed at freeing ISIS members who are being held in Syrian interment camps. Interestingly, the donations to that campaign often came in quite large amounts, around $10,000 each, the report reads.

ISIS affiliates in Pakistan have raised a more modest amount of $40,000 over the past 12 months, pretending to help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria in February 2023, TRM said.

Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production, a pro-ISIS media organization in Afghanistan, also used crypto for fundraising purposes. TRM said it had identified wallets controlled by the group that received $10,000.

Crypto has been utilized by terrorists and insurgent groups around the world over the past few years. In 2021, global crypto exchange Binance reportedly froze the accounts controlled by the militant wing of Hamas, which accumulated around $80,000 in a single month, CoinDesk reported. Apparently, the traceability of bitcoin led to Hamas abandoning it as a fundraising method in 2023 "for the safety of its donors," the groups announced in April.


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Anna Baydakova

Anna Baydakova was CoinDesk's investigative reporter with a special focus on Eastern Europe and Russia. Anna owns BTC and an NFT.

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