The Dark Web Delivers: Crowdsourcing for Jihad
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the dark web reappears to prove you wrong. Buying drugs, weapons and other highly illegal paraphernalia is practically old news at this point. But now, a marketplace called SadaqaCoins surfaced: it allows you to “anonymously” fund Jihadi, an Islamist militant movement, snipers buy buying them a 4×4 pickup, optics, or rifle .
If the movie Four Lions was shot today, this marketplace would have surely made it into the script. The opening line of the marketplace is, “Never will you attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. And whatever you spend — indeed, Allah is Knowing of it,” a verse from the Qur’an which urges believers to help those in need instead of hoarding their wealth.
The name comes from giving: sadaqah literally means “righteousness” and refers to voluntary charity. It is not obligatory and does not have to be material: according to some hadiths (sayings from the prophet), “a kind word and smile” can be considered sadaqah and the best form of it is “passing on knowledge.”
SadaqaCoins, spotted by Benjamin Strick, an open-source analyst with an interest in privacy, blockchain, maps, terrorist activity, and conflict areas, moves away from this explanation and into terrorist territory: it is not only a way to directly fund jihad activity, but also a platform for “various projects from the Mujahidin, Muhajirin and Ansar, along with their associated financial requirements”, according to their site. It is eerily similar to Kickstarter for mujahideen, offering the possibility of either donating (currently accepting Bitcoin, Ethereum and Monero) or listing your own project.
The marketplace has gone a step further, and boasts an official Twitter account. Their pinned tweet reads: “The SadaqaCoins Team is pleased to present a gift and service for the Ummah [Muslim community]. The believers now have the opportunity to advertise and support the latest projects. A considerable advantage (over other platforms) is that it our service is anonymous and secure.”
I believe the site is authentic due to a number of reasons such as content on the group's Telegram and Twitter page. But more significantly, SadaqaCoins uses an elaborate system of itemized bitcoin addresses for each project. These are different to its overall donation address. pic.twitter.com/wj4nHYXv9x
— Benjamin Strick (@BenDoBrown) August 26, 2018
At the time of writing, its Bitcoin address, however, remains empty.
"This dark web ‘Kickstarter for Jihadis’ offers translations in German and Turkish. This should be an alarm to authorities as to the origins of Jihadi financing via Bitcoin from Europe," Strick stressed.
As policing and counter-terrorism agencies increase their skills in investigating cyber-crime and cryptocurrency tracing, more investigations are proving that donations and purchases can be traced using data from the blockchain. Still, according to the Financial Action Task Force, the majority of donations for terrorist organizations is made in cash – don’t let the crypto naysayers tell you otherwise. And please don’t fund terrorism, with crypto or otherwise – that’s not the adoption we strive for.