Alright folks, listen up! There’s a growing storm in the world of blockchain and it’s about ISIS, yes, that ISIS, getting a bit too cozy with crypto in Asia. A recent expose by TRM Labs, a sharp outfit that digs into the blockchain for intelligence, has let the cat out of the bag.
Here’s the scoop: ISIS affiliates have been quietly trading in Tether USDT, a cryptocurrency that’s as steady as a rock, being pegged to the good ol’ US dollar. It seems these guys have been using the Tron network as their playground, no less. TRM Labs was quick to join the dots between these dealings and some rather shady fundraising activities linked to ISIS in Syria.
TRM dropped their findings in a hot-off-the-press report on July 21, with a clear message: there’s a boatload of evidence out there, showing that these ISIS networks in places like Tajikistan, Indonesia, and Afghanistan have been using crypto to keep the wheels turning for the past year or so.
But why Tether on Tron, you might ask? Well, it seems the crooks are getting smart and switching from Bitcoin to stablecoins. You see, Bitcoin’s value is bouncing around like a kangaroo in a coffee shop, but Tether, well, it’s as stable as they come.
Tara Annison, formerly of Elliptic, backed this up in a Cointelegraph presentation on the same day. She went further, explaining that decentralized exchanges, or DEXs for short, have a ton of cash on tap and lots of trade, making them perfect for money laundering.
And get this, the TRM report spotlighted some folks in Indonesia using local exchanges to ship over half a million dollars in 2022 alone to addresses tied to these pro-ISIS fundraisers in Syria. These guys claimed they were collecting cash to “help free ISIS families held in Syrian camps.”
All these transactions were made in neat little packages of $10,000, all via USDT on the Tron network.
Even more troubling, there’s a case in Tajikistan where crypto was used to round up fighters for ISIS’s pal in Afghanistan. They pulled in about $2 million in USDT on Tron in 2022 from a fundraiser that was open for over a year.
The good news? TRM Labs followed the money and tipped off the exchange where the group was cashing out. This led to Turkish authorities nabbing a big fish in the ISIS fundraising pond, a dude by the name of Shamil Hukumatov, on June 22.
But hold on, there’s more! A media outfit linked to the Pakistan arm of ISIS started boasting about accepting donations in late 2022. TRM Labs reports that they’ve raked in around $40,000 over the past year.
This all comes hot on the heels of a June 28 report from TRM Labs, which showed a big drop in dodgy dealings with Bitcoin over the past seven years. It seems the bad guys have moved on from Bitcoin, which was once the only game in town for terrorist financing. By 2022, a whopping 92% of terrorist financing had switched to Tron.
And there you have it, folks. The murky waters of cryptocurrency are getting even murkier, and it’s high time we all paid attention.