As part of an ongoing counter-terrorism campaign, police in London started encouraging citizens to report specific types of suspicious activity. Although the material police handed out contained numerous examples of suspicious activity in relation to terrorism, one of the examples was “visiting the dark web.”
Another example in the counter-terrorism pamphlet was “ordering unusual items online.” This follows a long trend of alleged connections between terrorism and the darknet. Not necessarily terror-related propaganda and media—that can easily be found on the clearnet. But communications between people outside of the caliphate state and contacts within ISIS/L.
Both Europol and Interpol found connections between terrorism and the dark web. Other law enforcement or government bodies found similar evidence. Some, however, never found anything. Similarly scrutinized is the possible connection between terrorism and money laundering through Bitcoin.
“There is a clear consensus that digital currencies pose a money laundering and terrorist financing threat,” a joint press release from Europol, Interpol, and the Basel Institute on Governance revealed. The general public has been pretty in the dark regarding the so called “clear consensus.”
And of course the connection between acts of mass violence and the darknet have been established—in the media if nothing else. The Munich gunman situation exemplified this “connection” between firearm vendors and terrorists. Both in the immediate response and a constant and thorough elimination of “darknet firearm vendors.”
The role that the darknet possibly played in the London terror attacks sparked the current investigations. Both into the darknet and encrypted messaging applications as “radicalization” mediums. Law enforcement in London recently reached out to the public for assistance in terrorism prevention. Specifically prevention by counting on the public to identify potential suspects.
One counter-terrorism leaflet reads that examples of suspicious activity includes people who:
- Appear to be carrying out surveillance;
- Are taking photos of security arrangements for example;
- Have illegal firearms or other weapons or have shown an interest
in obtaining them;
- Are visiting the dark web, or ordering unusual items online;
- Have bought or hired a vehicle in suspicious circumstances;
- Have bought or stored large amounts of chemicals, fertiliser or
gas cylinders for no obvious reasons, or are researching acquiring
- Have undergone an extreme and unexplained change in their
- Are carrying out suspicious transactions on their bank account;
- Hold passports or other documents in different names for no
- Travels for long periods of time, but is vague about where
“Be aware of what is going on around you – of anything that strikes you as different or unusual, or anyone that you feel is acting suspicious – it could be someone you know or even someone or something you notice when you’re out and about that doesn’t feel quite right,” one national notice explained.