A powerful terrorist group in Syria is reportedly promoting the use of Bitcoin to raise funds due to its anonymity and ease of use.
The Independent claims that a powerful jihadi group in Syria known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – a coalition of rebel groups that includes a former affiliate of al-Qaeda – is encouraging the use of popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin among its followers, calling it “one of the most important inventions of the last decade”.
The group has been promoting the virtues of crypto in its weekly magazine.
Reportedly, the article lists a number of advantages for using Bitcoin, arguing that it is safe because of the anonymity it offers and the lack of restriction on its usage.
HTS currently occupies the majority of Idlib province in northern Syria and remains the most powerful opposition force committed to removing the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
HTS generates most of its funding through taxes and tariffs imposed on the residents living in areas under its control. However, it also relies on a steady income from private Gulf donors, according to the Counter Extremism Project.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has been under increased pressure over the last year from the Syrian government and its ally Russia, which has long threatened to launch an offensive strike to recapture the territory.
Reportedly, as early as 2014, Isis supporters have created tutorials on how to make Bitcoin donations to the terrorist group. In November 2018, a Pakistani-American woman was jailed for using Bitcoin to launder money for Isis.
According to reports, last month the Palestinian group Hamas released a video which urged followers to support it by sending Bitcoin as part of a crowdfunding campaign launched in January.
Though contradictory to these reports, Rand released a report of its own stipulating that terrorists are more likely to use cash over crypto.
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