Terrorists in the Middle East are funding their spurious activities in the country using electronic payments and bitcoins, said an Indonesian independent financial agency.
Indonesian Financial Transactions Report and Analysis Center Chairman Kiagus Ahmad claimed terrorists used the Internet’s payment platforms to avoid easy detection. “They used virtual money because that would make it harder for us to track the transaction,” he said.
Bitcoins are virtual currencies that use encryption to control production and movements including fund transfers. It is decentralized, which means it is not governed by any country’s Central Bank, and is easily exchanged through different forms of online access such as desktop and mobile. It’s believed there are more than 12 million bitcoin wallets around the world. In Indonesia, it’s unclear how many bitcoin wallets operate, but the currency exchange is not yet recognized in the country.
Meanwhile, Indonesia is one of the 202 countries that accept PayPal, often used for its merchant services.
Although the independent agency didn’t provide figures for these financial transactions, it gave a basic idea on how these websites are used to fund terrorism including the recent spate of bombings in the capital.
Using bitcoin and PayPal, Syrian-based Indonesian terrorists send money to their contacts usually found in Java. For areas where Internet access is difficult, the electronic payments are then converted into cash.
The agency is planning to file cases against these terrorists. It is now coordinating with other finance-related departments including the Central Bank. Moreover, since this is Internet related, it is also working with Communications and Informatics Ministry. So far, more than 25 cases have already been filed since 2014.
PayPal hasn’t released a statement yet about the allegation, but this won’t be its first time being embroiled in such controversy. In 2015, the United States cited the popular electronic payment processor for its ‘reckless’ disregard of sanctions. It allowed money transfers to nationalities and countries linked to the creation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.