The anti-terrorist group in France has arrested a group of persons who were reportedly involved in a digital currency scheme aimed at promoting the activities of terrorists. Perhaps, this stands as another evidence that many terrorist groups are increasingly funded with digital currencies, in order to avoid being intercepted by the government and other enforcement agencies.
Police apprehend culprits via a sting operation in France
According to the report by the French media, France24, about 29 persons were arrested by the local police on September 29. These people were involved in a cryptocurrency scheme developed on the sole purpose of funding terrorism, particularly the jihadist group in Syria. In line with the statement from the anti-terror prosecutors’ office, the crypto terrorist funding has been ongoing since last year.
In order to conceal their true identity, the culprits opted to purchase digital currency coupons. Afterward, the details will be sent to the terrorists in Syria. In this way, the terrorist will cash out the funds without any interference, as the prosecutor explained. Notably, there are more than 20,000 tobacco outlets in France wherein people can buy Bitcoin coupons. However, most of them operate without any Proof Of Identity policy.
Cryptos now preferred for terrorist funding
Also, the France authorities were able to identify the two persons who developed the crypto scheme as Mesut S and Walid F. They are reported to be 25 years old and worked from northeastern Syria. The report further noted that the Mesut and Walid are suspected allies of an Al-Qaeda branch known as Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham. In 2016, the duo was sentenced to a 10-year jail term.
Reports have shown how terrorist financing is now mostly done through digital currencies due to the inherent property that makes the senders unknown, at least to some extent. This is similar to the case today, as the now-arrested persons previously used traditional means to process the transactions through cash. While giving reasons to the shift to cryptocurrency, the France authorities noted:
Constant surveillance of these networks prompted terrorist organizations to seek more opacity by using crypto-currencies such as bitcoin.