Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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ISIS Contemplating Financing Holy War With Bitcoin (Which Would Be One of ISIS' Biggest Mistakes)

Bitcoin ISIS

Above: Title to the ISIS-associated whitepaper advocating Bitcoin financing

I was only recently marveling at how news from the Middle East feels close to cyberpunk, and now it entirely is: A blog associated with The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is seriously arguing that the terror army's war to establish a caliphate should be financed through Bitcoin. You can read the actual essay (basically an ISIS white paper), a bizarre amalgam of Salafist-Qutbist theology and virtual currency economics, at the .pdf here. Excerpt:

To set up a totally anonymous donation system that could send millions of dollars worthof Bitcoin instantly from the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Ghana,  Malaysia, Sri Lanka, or wherever else right to the pockets of the mujahideen, very  little would be done. Dark Wallet’s beta release will be published within the next  coming months, the mujahideen of DawlatulIslam would simply need to set up a wallet andpost their wallet address online. Then, Muslims from across the globe could simply copy the wallet address, login to their Dark Wallets, purchase whatever amount of Bitcoin  they wish to send, and send them over. The mujahideen would then have someone on the  other side convert Bitcoin into whatever currency they wish at optimal Bitcoin to  currency transaction rates to receive the donations from the whole ummah. 

I hope this happens, because it would be one of the worst mistakes ISIS ever made (i.e. good news for everyone else):

Bitcoin virtual currency

Bitcoin is extremely volatile and often experiences sudden, unpredictable declines in value. Worse than that, as I keep pointing out to apparently deaf ears, hardly anyone is actually using Bitcoin to buy and sell goods and services. Still worse for a Bitcoin-funded jihad, ISIS would soon discover that the powers that be have far greater ability to curb Bitcoin transactions than is often assumed by Bitcoin enthusiasts. And the very fact that someone associated with ISIS is contemplating Bitcoin financing may lead directly to international governments finally putting harsh oversights in place. So like I said, I hope ISIS is the latest organization to fall prey to Bitcoin hype. Euphoria over the virtual currency has done little to grow Bitcoin's user base, but if all that buzz helps undermine an international terror network, wonderful.

And that said, I should also update my summary of this actual news story:

An international terrorist organization called ISIS hellbent on restoring an ancient empire is currently marching on the birthplace of civilization after overtaking the fabled location of the Garden of Eden, and is planning to finance this war through virtual currency. -- Not a William Gibson novel but real life right now.

Hat tip -- Reddit, which ironically summarized the news this way: Bitcoin is finally making it. Mujahideen from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are considering accepting Bitcoin.

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Ilsa Hesse

Bitcoins? I thought it's 15 minutes were up already?

Ezra

I don't get your grudge against Bitcoin, but there's plenty of positive developments to blog about. Even in your realm of blogging about Linden Lab, High Fidelity is going to use a crytocurrency mostly based on libbitcoin.

Iggy

Psst...tell ISIS to invest their entire stash in Bitcoin, then get the Iranians to crash the servers...pass it on. Jihad over, baby :)

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