September 04, 2022

Islamic State Turns to NFTs to Spread Terror Message

Featuring Yaya J. Fanusie

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Journalist Ian Talley

A simple digital card praising Islamist militants for an attack on a Taliban position in Afghanistan last month is the first known nonfungible token created and disseminated by a terrorist sympathizer, according to former senior U.S. intelligence officials. It is a sign that Islamic State and other terror groups may be preparing to use the emerging financial technology to sidestep Western efforts to eradicate their online fundraising and messaging, they said. The NFT, visible on at least one NFT trading website and titled “IS-NEWS #01,” bears Islamic State’s emblem. It was created by a supporter of the group, likely as an experiment to test a new outreach and funding strategy for ISIS, the former officials said. Regulators and national-security officials have expressed concern about the potential for terrorists to exploit new financial technologies and markets, including NFTs.

“It was only a matter of time,” said Yaya Fanusie, a former economic and counterterrorism analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.

An NFT is a unit of data stored on a blockchain—a database of transactions organized without the need for a central trusted authority. The technology first emerged as a means of tracking, valuing and trading digital assets, but developers say that it has much broader applications, such as digital concert tickets and branded collectibles like digital trading cards.

Read the full story and more from The Wall Street Journal.

Authors

  • Yaya J. Fanusie

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Energy, Economics and Security Program

    Yaya J. Fanusie is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). His research focuses on the national security implications of cryptocurrencies an...