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ISIS and other terrorist groups prefer Telegram to raise funds via cryptocurrencies: MEMRI

Fri, 30 Aug 2019, 10:08 am UTC

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a press monitoring and analysis organization headquartered in Washington, has said that terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Hamas are increasingly using social media platforms to raise cryptocurrency.

On August 21, MEMRI published its new research, entitled “The Coming Storm – Terrorists Using Cryptocurrency.” The report particularly called out encrypted messaging app Telegram as the most preferred app by these terrorist groups.

“MEMRI research has found that the main platform for terrorist fundraising today is the encrypted messaging app Telegram – terrorists' ‘app of choice,’” it said.

The organization believes that the threat will “grow exponentially” as Telegram launches Telegram Open Network (TON) and its Gram token. Telegram is reportedly planning to launch the first batches of its Gram token within the next two months.

“Counterterrorism officials need to be prepared for the coming explosion of terrorist use of Telegram's cryptocurrency,” it added.

The report pointed out that terrorist groups regularly publish their bitcoin addresses when they seek donations on social media platforms such as Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, and others. They also share detailed instructions via these platforms to explain potential donors how to donate in cryptocurrencies.

As per the report, the cryptocurrencies that are generally used by these groups include bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Monero, Verge, Zcash, and others.

MEMRI said that while it was carrying out its research, it also briefed U.S. and Western government agencies, media, academia, and legislatures about the ongoing findings. As a result, Congressional letters have reportedly been sent to Telegram CEO Pavel Durov to take immediate action against “the well-known, well-documented widespread terrorist use of his platform by terrorists.”

The letters particularly ask Durov to specify a plan of action to “combat extremist content on Telegram and create safeguards to prevent terrorist groups from using the platform as a secure fundraising tool."

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