Terrorists Using Crypto to Finance Their Attacks – UN Authorities

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Svetlana Martynova, the Countering Financing of Terrorism Coordinator at the United Nations (UN) claims that terrorists who have been removed from the formal financial system have turned to cryptocurrency to finance their illicit activities. He announced this during a speech at a “Special Meeting” organized by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in New Delhi and Mumbai between October 28th to 29th.

During that meeting which was focused on fighting the use of “new and emerging technologies” that terrorists utilize for their illegal operations, Martynova said the authorities have detected such activities and have, therefore, stepped up scrutiny of such practices. As the method of transferring funds in the region advances, these terrorists have also adapted well to the changes.

Previously, the predominant means of transferring funds in Arab countries and the South Asia region has always been through cash and hawala (a traditional method of transferring money in the region) before the inception of digital assets. 

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“We know terrorists adapt to the evolution of conditions around them and as technologies evolve they adapt as well,” she added, “If they’re excluded from the formal financial system and they want to purchase or invest in something with anonymity, and they’re advanced for that, they’re likely to abuse cryptocurrencies.”

Taking stock of the figure which has grown over the years, Martynova noted that a couple of years ago 5% of terrorist attacks were viewed as crypto-financed or linked to digital assets, but now there are considerations that it may have reached about 20%. 

Attackers Abuse the Use of Crypto

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledges the fact that these advanced technologies have a way of improving human conditions everywhere. Also, Guterres noted that this exploitation goes way beyond terrorist financing as there are other entities who also abuse the use of digital assets.

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“Terrorists and others posing hateful ideologies are abusing new and emerging technologies to spread disinformation, foment discord, recruit and radicalize, mobilize resources and execute attacks,” Guterres explained

Most times, crypto mixers are used to obfuscate these funds once looted by the perpetrators.

Recently, the hacker of TempleDAO was discovered to move stolen money using the recently sanctioned cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash. Also, the attackers of the Harmony layer-1 blockchain’s Horizon Bridge used the Tornado Cash mixer to make their funds clean. 

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