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Islamic State enlists power of NFTs to recruit and spread terror

Jayden Collins

Published 
| Last updated 

Islamic State enlists power of NFTs to recruit and spread terror

A digital announcement from the Islamic State, praising an attack against the Taliban in Afghanistan has been minted and turned into an NFT.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ turned the announcement along with two further pieces of ISIS propaganda into NFTs.

According to former US intelligence officials, it could be a sign that ISIS and other terrorist groups could be on the verge of utilising the new technology to spread their message while simultaneously raising funds.

The NFT in question has since been delisted from major marketplaces Rarible and OpenSea; however, when visible they were listed as ‘IS-NEWS #01’.

Credit: Piotr Adamowicz / Alamy
Credit: Piotr Adamowicz / Alamy

The nonfungible token also bore the Islamic State’s emblem.

With the nature of NFTS, although they have been removed from the marketplaces, they still remain active because of their respective blockchains.

All it would take to access these images and distribute them is to have knowledge of their specific addresses. 

This means it is practically impossible to remove them from the internet.

Essentially an NFT is a unit of data stored on a database called a blockchain that is organised without any central trusted authority.

Originally the technology was created to track valuing and trading digital assets.

Yaya Fanusie, a former counterterrorism analyst at the CIA told The Wall Street Journal: “It was only a matter of time.”

The fact that these pieces of digital property can never be entirely removed, coupled with the idea that these groups can gain funding from anywhere in the world, makes it a highly dangerous prospect.

Terrorist groups such as ISIS wouldn’t have to forge diplomatic relations or go through proper trade protocols in order to fund their messaging. 

The ‘IS-NEWS #01’ doesn’t appear to have been traded but its mere presence makes it nearly impossible for any law enforcement to take it off the internet - unlike a news article or tweet. 

Former federal intelligence analyst Mario Cosby told The Wall Street Journal: “It’s as censorship-proof as you can get.

“​​There’s not really anything anyone can do to actually take this NFT down.”

While the first terror-based NFT may have simply come from a supporter, it highlights just how this technology could be used to benefit these groups.

Featured Image Credit: Nayef Hammouri / Alamy. digitallife / Alamy.

Topics: Terrorism, Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin

Jayden Collins
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