January 09, 2018

Bitcoin can help terrorists secretly fund their deadly attacks

By Edoardo Saravalle and Elizabeth Rosenberg

One of the latest tools terrorists are using isn’t a new kind of bomb, gun, suicide vest or other device that can kill and maim. The tool is bitcoin, the virtual currency created and exchanged using a decentralized network of computers, without the involvement of government and banks.

Because bitcoin transactions can be completed anonymously, the virtual currency is an ideal way for criminals – including terrorists – to hide their financial transactions from government agencies and law enforcement.

Bitcoin can be sent anywhere, converted into cash, and deposited in banks. It’s as if cash was made invisible in one location, secretly taken to another location undetected, and then made visible again.

Terrorists can then use the cash they get from their converted bitcoin to buy weapons, clothes, food, pay rent and cover their other expenses.

As a high-tech money laundering device, bitcoin is a terrorist’s dream come true. But it’s a nightmare for financial regulators and for counterterrorism forces in our military, law enforcement and intelligence community trying to find and stop terrorists.

Read the full op-ed in Fox News.

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • October 5, 2019
    Trump’s Use of Sanctions Is Nothing Like Obama’s

    Two and a half years into Donald Trump’s presidency, there is no doubt that economic sanctions are his administration’s foreign-policy weapon of choice. From China to Iran to ...

    By Peter Harrell

  • Commentary
    • October 2, 2019
    Situation Report: U.S.-North Korea Negotiations to Resume This Weekend

    After months of stalled talks, U.S. and North Korean representatives will meet this weekend to resume negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Just this week, ...

    By Duyeon Kim, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Kristine Lee, Van Jackson & ​Neil Bhatiya

  • Commentary
    • World Politics Review
    • September 13, 2019
    North Korea’s Sanctions-Busting Gets More Sophisticated—and More Lucrative

    As a United Nations report revealed earlier this month, North Korea continues to dodge international sanctions and raise money for its nuclear weapons program, despite attempt...

    By ​Neil Bhatiya

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • September 3, 2019
    Welcome to the New Phase of US-China Tech Competition

    It came without a breaking news alert or presidential tweet, but the technological competition with China entered a new phase last month. Several developments quietly heralded...

    By Ashley Feng & Lorand Laskai

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia