International terrorism has mastered all modern informational technologies and is using cryptocurrencies while also actively broadening its contacts with high-profile hackers, according to Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSS).
"This is not only about aggressive propaganda and recruitment on the Internet, where over 10,000 websites and hundreds of thousands social media accounts exist for this purpose. I am speaking about the massive use of encrypted internet communication tools, electronic banking, cryptocurrencies, and schemes for remote terrorist activity management and its financing," Bortnikov stated in his opening remarks at the Moscow Conference on International Security.
The FSS prevented 25 out of 29 terrorist attacks last year, with all of them coordinated through online messengers from countries such as Syria and Iraq.
However, the assertions that cryptocurrencies are being used to finance terrorism might be far-fetched and ill-grounded. Less than 1% of all Bitcoin-related transactions processed between 2013 and 2016 were connected to financing illegal activities, including terrorism and money-laundering, according to research carried out by Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) within the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)
These figures are confirmed by regional data. In 2017, Russian authorities registered about 100 cases where virtual money was used to finance illegal activities. Meanwhile, Japan recorded only 699 cases of suspicious financial activity related to digital currencies out of 370,000 reports submitted to the National Police last year.
Nonetheless, Russian authorities firmly believe that cryptocurrencies pose a serious threat by creating favorable conditions for tax evasion and various illegal schemes. The views expressed by Bortnikov are in sync with the position of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said last year that cryptocurrencies pose risks such as “laundering the capital obtained by criminal methods, avoiding taxes and financing even terrorism, and, of course, the spread of fraudulent schemes that can affect ordinary citizens.”
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