An anti-terrorism network of hackers, Ghost Security Group, has informed that ISIL, which claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris, used bitcoin to finance their operations. Newsbtc interviewed a member of the group, who confirmed their team managed to track several bitcoin addresses related to the terrorist organization.
Formerly known as Ghost Security, the group is fighting against extremism with the use of internet and social media platforms. It is now involved in a digital war against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and already started collecting huge amount of data to identify the terrorists responsible for attacks in France.
“The Islamic State does use cryptocurrencies as a form of income to fund their ongoing operations and we have managed to uncover several Bitcoin addresses used by them. One of the accounts we analyzed was found to contain 3 million U.S. dollars worth of Bitcoins,” a guy from Ghost Security Group said in an interview.
During the year, Ghost Security Group has already attacked thousands of social media accounts and public websites related to ISIL.
The guy told Newsbtc that bitcoin is the main form of virtual currency used by ISIL, adding the militant group receives cryptocurrency on a regular basis. Ghost Security Group managed to hack and close funding websites that were used by ISIL to collect the digital currency.
He also confirmed they noticed some indicators of the attack and are now gathering evidence for government officials in the United States, adding that currently he can’t give more details on the investigation.
The group’s former spokesperson said that ISIL militants have been using US hosting services, like Amazon Web Services and Google, to avoid US and international intelligence services.
Executive director of the Ghost Security Group, told IBTimes UK, that the Ghost Security Group collected evidence that helped to disrupt ISIL’s plans of terrorist attack in New York on July 4 and to foil an attack in Tunisia in July, including other extremist threats.
In a Dateline coverage of the attacks in Paris, American journalist Andrea Mitchell talked about the intelligence gaps regarding the terrorist attacks in Paris, Networkworld reported. When asked by Lestor Holt about whether the latest events in France change the game in terms of intelligence, Mitchell said yes.
“There’s such good surveillance on cell phones and there’s such good communications ability by the intelligence gathering in Europe, especially in France, especially in Great Britain and in the United States. So they may have been communicating via social media or through codes. And that’s the kind of thing that is very concerning to U.S. intelligence,” she noted.
Following shootings in the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in January, French government approved anti-terrorism laws that enable intelligence services to conduct mass surveillance of all French internet users in order to unveil possible terrorist risks.
However, the bill didn’t prevent bombings in Paris, what means widespread surveillance can’t solve the problem. Matthew Williams, a researcher of Computational Criminology and Cybercrime at Cardiff University, told Mic that “picking out singular acts of crime or terror from an indiscriminate pile of civilian noise is all but impossible.”
This June, the EU Institute for Security Studies issued a study containing information on the use of cryptocurrencies by the Islamic State. According to the agency, thousands of dollars in virtual currency has been transferred to the accounts related to ISIL. The first transaction recorded by one of the accounts refers to 2012.
The bitcoin technology, Berton said, makes it highly difficult to trace digital currency transactions realized in the network. Moreover, ISIL members that use bitcoin to support the organization are located all over the globe.
“Sadaqa (private donations) constitute one of ISIL’s main sources of revenue, and its supporters around the world have allegedly used digital currencies such as bitcoin to transfer money quickly to accounts held by ISIL militants while minimizing the risk of detection,” wrote Beatrice Berton, an analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies.
Bitcoin is quite a convenient currency for ISIL members who criticize the use of foreign money. In August, a 17-year-old teenager from Virginia was sentenced to 11 years in prison in the US after he was accused of educating terrorists how to use digital currency. The supporter of the Islamic State, Ali Amin, wrote an essay called “Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle” proposing to use bitcoin as an alternative currency. The main benefit of the digital currency is that it is not controlled by Western states.
A series of five attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday took 129 lives, injuring hundreds of people. President Francois Hollande has imposed a state of emergency and ordered to shut down the country’s borders.