The U.S. Government's "Largest Ever Seizure Of Cryptocurrency In The Terrorism Context"
WASHINGTON, DC / ACCESSWIRE / August 19, 2020 / On August 13, 2020, the U.S. government announced that it had seized about $2 million in Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency from accounts that had sent or received funds for three foreign terrorist organizations: Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades. Also seized were over 300 cryptocurrency accounts, four websites, and four Facebook accounts associated with cryptocurrency schemes. The action involved the U.S. Department of Justice, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Departments of Treasury and Homeland Security, as well as the FBI. According to the Department of Justice announcement, this was "the government's largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrency in the terrorism context" and involved "the solicitation of cryptocurrency donations from around the world."
Seizure Follows Publication Of MEMRI CJL Report On Terrorist Use Of Cryptocurrency
This government action against the terrorist groups followed the publication of research by the MEMRI Cyber Jihad Lab (CJL), which was established 15 years ago. It came a year after the publication, in August 2019, of the CJL's seminal report, The Coming Storm: Terrorists Using Cryptocurrency, documenting two years of research, led by MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky and the MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) team, on jihadi use of cryptocurrency, including in fundraising campaigns for purchasing weapons and supporting jihad.
MEMRI was the first organization to publish research on this subject and to conduct briefings on it at the highest level of the U.S. government and worldwide. Since the report's release, MEMRI has been briefing government agencies in the U.S. and abroad on its contents, including the Department of the Treasury, and has also continued to publish reports on the subject.
The MEMRI CJL report includes a preface by Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Vincent R. Stewart, former Deputy Commander of the United States Cyber Command and current Special Advisor and Chairman of the MEMRI Board of Advisors. In his preface, he wrote: "This study is the first significant research of its kind to show the scope of cryptocurrency use by terrorist organizations and their supporters, for fundraising and for financing attacks, purchasing equipment, supporting fighters and their families, and more. MEMRI research shows that over the past five years, this has developed from encouragement on jihadi blogs to donate "millions of dollars" in bitcoin to ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and many others to terrorist groups and their supporters soliciting donations in various cryptocurrencies on social media." (Read the report here.)
U.S. Officials: The Government's Actions Deprive Terrorists Of Millions Of Dollars
On the dismantling of the terrorist cryptocurrency financing John Demers, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's National Security Division, said: "Today's actions deprive Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS of millions of dollars they solicited to buy weapons and train terrorists. By raising cryptocurrency on social media, these terrorists tried to bring terrorist financing into the current age. But these actions show that law enforcement remains a step ahead of them."
Attorney General William Barr said: "Our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas... We will prosecute their money laundering, terrorist financing and violent illegal activities wherever we find them." Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said: "Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies... Today's actions demonstrate our ongoing commitment to holding malign actors accountable for their crimes."
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Cyber & Jihad Lab (CJL) - https://www.memri.org/cjlab
SOURCE: Middle East Media Research Institute
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