SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Justice Department seizes millions in cryptocurrency from terror groups

The Justice Department seized $2 million worth of cryptocurrency from terror groups in the Middle East, federal prosecutors announced Thursday, marking the l...

Posted: Aug 13, 2020 11:53 AM

The Justice Department seized $2 million worth of cryptocurrency from terror groups in the Middle East, federal prosecutors announced Thursday, marking the largest ever US government takeover of online terrorist financing.

The funds from ISIS, al Qaeda and the al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, would likely have been used by the groups to buy weapons and train would-be attackers, Justice Department officials said.

"Two million dollars is a lot of equipment that they can buy, a lot of weapons a lot of training that they can fund, a lot of tickets to fly people around the world," said John Demers, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's national security division. "This is going to make a big difference in their operation."

The seizure, which also included 300 cryptocurrency accounts, four websites, and four Facebook pages, underscores how terrorist groups have modernized their fundraising tactics in recent years, and how law enforcement has adapted as they've continued to target criminals in their wallets.

Officials said that the terror groups issued both transparent public messages to solicit the digital funds as well as schemes designed to dupe unwitting donors, including a website allegedly set up by ISIS in February that purported to sell personal protective equipment to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

At a news conference on Thursday, law enforcement officials described the terror groups as "nimble" and opportunistic fundraisers who regularly exploit new technologies for moving money.

"We've seen this in the narcotics space for years in which narco-terrorists have used cryptocurrency in a very covert fashion, trying to evade law enforcement, and we're seeing that also used -- which shouldn't be surprising -- in the counterterrorism world," said Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney in Washington, DC.

Teams of agents from the Justice Department, Homeland Security and Internal Revenue Service logged thousands of hours investigating the financing operations over several months, senior Justice Department officials said. Investigators analyzed transactions of cryptocurrency on the blockchain, a form of public ledger for the online funds, and employed undercover operations as well as search warrants on email accounts to establish a money trail that was detailed in 87 pages of civil forfeiture complaints unsealed Thursday in Washington, DC, federal court.

A number of criminal investigations into individuals associated with the fundraising effort, including probes of American citizens who made donations, remain ongoing, the senior officials said.

National security experts have warned in recent years that terror groups would likely turn to cryptocurrency to fund their activities, although it's not clear how widespread or significant the practice is as a source of funding for the groups.

A 2019 study by the RAND Corporation, a global policy think tank, concluded that cryptocurrencies "generally are not well matched with the totality of features that would be needed by and desirable to the terrorist groups examined but might be employed for selected financial activities."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 78160

Reported Deaths: 953
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah18149245
Washington10929103
Marion9634147
Clackamas672781
Lane450747
Umatilla446850
Jackson401737
Deschutes251715
Malheur245945
Yamhill179717
Linn160023
Polk133219
Douglas98119
Klamath9265
Jefferson87411
Benton8457
Union8098
Morrow6717
Lincoln66515
Josephine5785
Wasco54319
Columbia5394
Coos4533
Hood River4303
Clatsop3730
Baker2914
Crook2446
Tillamook1470
Curry1462
Lake1431
Grant1381
Harney1041
Wallowa723
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler60
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1265182

Reported Deaths: 19410
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles4141857740
San Bernardino966571136
Riverside885301444
San Diego846381035
Orange805511578
Kern42614449
Fresno39004488
Sacramento38999586
Santa Clara35945486
Alameda30330520
San Joaquin26432510
Contra Costa24914261
Stanislaus22624430
Tulare21645312
Ventura20604185
Imperial16429356
Monterey15835123
San Francisco15797160
San Mateo14812170
Sonoma12662160
Merced12281182
Santa Barbara11631137
Kings1143489
Solano1095781
Marin7840129
Placer679471
Madera642786
San Luis Obispo634538
Shasta518750
Yolo502081
Santa Cruz463829
Butte419560
Sutter363719
Napa312418
El Dorado25814
Yuba222110
Lassen21823
San Benito196817
Tehama177326
Mendocino163223
Nevada141410
Tuolumne11049
Glenn98910
Lake97120
Humboldt9499
Colusa7476
Siskiyou7373
Amador66616
Mono5503
Calaveras54422
Del Norte3571
Inyo30816
Plumas2300
Trinity1680
Modoc1560
Mariposa1443
Alpine510
Sierra230
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 35°
Brookings
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 42°
Crater Lake
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 20°
Grants Pass
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 32°
Klamath Falls
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 20°
Staying dry this week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events