The BBC recently aired a video about Dark Wallet a new wallet application that promises to anonymise your Bitcoin transactions. The BBC video wasn’t without controversy. They attempted to smear Dark Wallet by associating it with the Islamic State and illegal use.
The PDF that presented in the BBC article was written and posted on a WordPress blog by someone going by the Twitter username of @AmreekiWitness his Twitter Bio mentioned: Dedicated to raising awareness of the upcoming conquest of the Americas and the benefits it has upon the American people. His Twitter account was later suspended by Twitter Support.
Amreeki Witness wrote a PDF document that he posted on his WordPress Blog. The document was titled: Bitcoin wa Sadaqat alJihad (source was removed from here, A copy can be found here) which translates to: “Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle”.
The pseudonym Amreeki authored the PDF under is Taqi’ulDeen alMunthir. That name translates to Righteous in Faith the-Warner.
The article mentions Silk Road (Or any Dark Net Market for that matter) as a market place that could be used to buy weapons for the Mujahideen (Islamic fighters).
It goes on to explain Bitcoin and its decentralized nature and how it could be coupled with Dark Wallet to anonymously “send millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin instantly from the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Ghana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, or wherever else right to the pockets of the Mujahideen”.
Does the Islamic State need Bitcoin?
The Islamic State is by far the richest, largest, most powerful and sophisticated terrorist group the world has ever come across. Ruling territory greater in size than the United Kingdom, the Islamic state controls virtually all of Syria’s oil fields and most of Iraq’s.
Selling their oil for cheap in neighboring countries they earn around $2 Million a day. In addition to this the Islamic State has captured a lot of US-made weaponry, tanks and even Black Hawk helicopters from the Iraqi army. In addition to this ruling over a large population of Iraqis and Syrians which gives ISIS access to a lot of Zakat (Islamic Charity where you donate 2.5% of your annual savings). All these methods of income have made the Islamic State fully self-sufficient. The Islamic State doesn’t need donations in order to continue operations.
Practicality of using Bitcoin
The use of Bitcoin & Dark Wallet individually by Islamic State supporters cannot be prevented the same way as you cannot prevent them from using the internet.
It is Impossible for the Islamic State to use Bitcoin on a state level due to the lack of access to the Banking Sector. Also Turkey, the largest neighbor to the Islamic State hasn’t got a very large Bitcoin community and only has one Bitcoin exchange BTCTurk. Its other neighbors, Syria, Iraq and Jordan virtually have no Bitcoin communities.
The Islamic State uses the US Dollar to facilitate a lot of its trade since it’s used worldwide and doesn’t need to be exchanged as the local currencies plummet in value. The Islamic State cannot buy and sell loads of Bitcoin for cash as none of its neighbors have large Bitcoin communities to facilitate it. If the Islamic State manages to penetrate the banking sector in order to facilitate Bitcoin trade and anonymizing of its transactions the blame would lie with the banks that have allowed them to use their service not with Bitcoin or Dark Wallet itself.
Technical Capabilities of the Islamic State
The Islamic State has a very tech savvy media team this is evident when you see their Hollywood-style action films that they release such as Flames of war and Salil Sawarim (Clanging of Swords).
Despite their tech savvy media team there is no evidence of the Islamic State themselves understanding Bitcoin or even having an electronic army unlike the Syrian regime that has the Syrian Electronic Army. Talking to @AmreekiWitness and @CaliphateHackers (A Hacker Group) they’re both Islamic State supporters and not actual Islamic State fighters.
Caliphate Hackers took down a Bitcoin donation address that they had on their bio. I asked them whether the Islamic State took Bitcoin Donations and they replied that it doesn’t:
Amreeki Witness also known as Taqi’ulDeen Al Munthir
Since Amreeki had his twitter suspended we emailed him. He uses Bitmessage in addition to his Bitcoin/Dark Wallet article shows him to be well versed in cyrptocurrencies and decentralized systems in general. Below is the conversation that I had with him.
When asked whether he was an Islamic State fighter and weather ISIS accepted Bitcoin donations he replied no for both.
In interesting it seems as though Amreeki doesn’t want the Islamic State to accept Bitcoin by to create their own CryptoCurrency and he named it eDinar and to have it traded for Bitcoin.
When asked whether he understood that his actions could damage Bitcoin’s public image he replied:
In the public eye, Bitcoin is a way to buy drugs and hire hitmen. How far of a stretch is it to say it finances terrorism as well?
An issue with trading Bitcoin for eDinar is that exchanges that facilitate such trades would most likely by attacked with DDOS attacks and be investigated by the US government and would be forced to stop facilitating the trade or most likely taken down.
When asking about details regarding eDinar, whether it would be a decentralized currency like Bitcoin he replied:
It would operate online, instantly, and without direct regulation. However, it would be controlled to a certain extent. eDinars would be created at the same rate the Islamic State issues physical dinars, or prints money. As opposed to mining. It would be directly, intrinsically, linked to a fiat Islamic State currency which would be made of precious metal and backed by
When asked if eDinar was currently being developed and if the Islamic State had the infrastructure to support it since not many people own smartphones/laptops he answered:
They wouldn’t need to. For those that just want to store their money or have it accessible anywhere in the caliphate, they could just go to a local bank and have the conversion done. eDinar would be less of a standalone and more of an extension of the physical currency.
The Islamic State doesn’t use Bitcoin and the PDF article wasn’t written by Islamic State members or fighters but rather by Islamic State supporters. They propose to create a Semi-decentralized currency “eDinar” that would act as a decentralized extension to already printed Islamic State Dinars as opposed to using Bitcoin itself directly.