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UN Claims Terrorists Turning to Crypto Despite Scant Evidence
Just in time for Halloween, the UN is telling horror stories about how crypto is funding terrorism. From Cointelegraph:
Terrorist groups who have been excluded from the “formal financial system” have turned to crypto to fund their heinous activities, according to Svetlana Martynova, the Countering Financing of Terrorism Coordinator at the United Nations (UN).
The UN official made the comments during a speech at a “Special Meeting” run by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in New Delhi and Mumbai on Oct. 28-29, which was focused on combating the use of “new and emerging technologies” for terrorist purposes.
Martynova said that while cash and hawala — a traditional system of transferring money in Arab countries and South Asia — have been the “predominant methods” of terror financing. “We know terrorists adapt to the evolution of conditions around them and as technologies evolve they adapt as well,” she said.
Martynova noted that these technologies include cryptocurrencies, which have been used to “create opportunities for abuse,” she said, adding:
“If they’re excluded from the formal financial system and they want to purchase or invest in something with anonymity, and they’re advanced for that, they’re likely to abuse cryptocurrencies.”
The problem with this premise is that anything can be abused for terrorism or other crimes. Cash can be abused. Free speech can be abused. But the solution isn’t to crack down on cash or free speech; the solution is to crack down on the terrorists or criminals.
Going after crypto is an easy substitute for doing actual law enforcement and security work, and it serves to punish the innocent more than any actual perpetrator. Further, recent evidence suggests that crypto’s role as an enabler of terrorism globally remains relatively minor:
“Cryptocurrencies have been used in several terror finance cases, but it has not yet become a primary means of terror financing,” remarked Matthew Levitt, director of the Jeanette and Eli Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to Cointelegraph.