The Islamic State launches into NFTs to finance itself

American analysts note that the Islamic State would go through NFT platforms to disseminate its messages and finance itself. The American authorities are closely monitoring this new strategy of the terrorist organization.

According to published information by The Wall Street Journal, the Islamic State begins to invest in NFT (non-fungible token) platforms. The goal? Disseminate its messages while escaping any attempt of tracing by the authorities, recruit, but above all finance itself. As a reminder, NFTs are digital certificates of ownership, often associated with works of art, for speculative purposes.

Appearance of a suspicious NFT

An NFT titled “IS-NEWS #01”, bearing the Islamic State emblem has been spotted on at least two NFT platforms, including Rarible. A digital map praising Islamist militants and an attack on a Taliban position in Afghanistan was released last month. It is the first known NFT created by a terrorist sympathizer, according to former senior US intelligence officials interviewed by US media.

According to Mario Cosby, a former federal intelligence analyst specializing in blockchain, two other NFTs created by the same user on the same day, August 26, exhibit characteristics of the Islamic State. They are not currently offered for sale, but analysts say terrorist groups could clearly finance their operations through the sale of NFTs.

Capture of NFT IS NEWS #01, by the Washington Post, attributed to the Islamic State
Capture of NFT IS NEWS #01, by The Washington Post, attributed to the Islamic State © Capture Washington Post

Regulators and US national security officials have expressed concern about the potential for terrorists to exploit new technologies and financial markets, including NFTs.

At this time IS-NEWS #01 does not appear to have been traded, but its existence on the blockchain makes it nearly impossible for the Department of Justice to remove it from the internet. Indeed, an NFT is stored on a blockchain, a database of transactions organized in such a way as not to have recourse to a central authority. Transactions on NFT markets can be done under a pseudonym, which adds to the difficulty for authorities to trace them. “There’s really no way to bring this NFT down,” Mario Cosby continues.

“A matter of time”

“It was only a matter of time,” Yaya Fanusie, a former Central Intelligence Agency economics and counterterrorism analyst, told The Washinton Post, predicting widespread practice by the terrorist organization.

“So far, Western authorities have crippled other Islamic State financial channels, including shutting down fundraising and propaganda websites. Social media platforms have also become more responsive to calls from lawmakers. to censor messages deemed contrary to their code of conduct”, analyzes the washington post.

Western officials fear remnants of the group, both online and on the ground, could foster a revival. The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan last year gave the group an opportunity to make a strong comeback by retaking areas now held by their enemies, the Taliban.

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The Islamic State launches into NFTs to finance itself

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