The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not yet appear to be using Bitcoin as a means of financing its operations. This, despite the organization’s dependence on high technology, according to reports citing the US Department of Homeland Security.
The assessment comes in contravention to earlier reports of the group embracing Bitcoin and Dark Wallet in order to “enable jihad on a large scale.” The reports were based on a blog post titled “Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle”, later removed, which was apparently associated with the group.
Lauding Bitcoin for its anonymity, the post said, “This allows our brothers stuck outside of the ardh Dawlatul-Islam to avoid government taxes along with secretly fund the mujahideen with no legal danger upon them.”
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In order to rule over vast territory home to 8 million people and carry out its operations, ISIS requires copious financing. But they are reportedly the richest jihadist group in the world, with assets estimated at over $2 billion. One report pegs their daily income at $5.6 million. Government and media have become curious, even fascinated, about how the group moves money and have been investigating the matter intensely.
Instead of Bitcoin, investigators report cash, crude oil and contraband as their primary means of wealth transfer. Wealth is reportedly accumulated from captured oil fields, theft of property from conquered populations, taxes imposed upon them, and cash donations.
One can still doubt the authenticity of the aforementioned blog post. But the art of bitcoin anonymity has been refined so much that investigators may never confirm its use in terrorist financing.