Global Jihad 'Could Be Funded With Bitcoin'

Tom Cheshire, Technology Correspondent

A new blog associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has said that bitcoin could "enable jihad on a large scale" by sending "millions of dollars" to fighters.

In a post called "Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle", the author argues such donations would be "untrackable" by Western governments.

The article in a new online magazine explains how the Bitcoin network works, commenting that it "instantly allows for shari' (sic) only compliant markets that cross all borders".

The article highlights Dark Wallet, a Bitcoin wallet currently in alpha development that uses encryption to make it harder to trace Bitcoin transactions.

According to the post: "This allows our brothers stuck outside of the ardh Dawlatul-Islam to avoid government taxes along with secretly fund the mujahideen with no legal danger upon them.

"This system has the potential to revive the lost sunnah of donating to the mujahideen, it is simple, easy, and we ask Allah to hasten it’s usage for us."

In February, the Canadian government warned that bitcoin could be used for money laundering and financing terrorism.

The US Department of Defense is currently conducting a counter-terrorism investigation of virtual currencies like bitcoin.

A memo written by the department's Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office and first published in May by Bitcoin Magazine stated: "The introduction of virtual currency will likely shape threat finance by increasing the opaqueness, transactional velocity, and overall efficiencies of terrorist attacks."

The new Wordpress blog which published the bitcoin article was originally planned as a magazine, but was superseded by an official magazine called Islamic State News.

Its authors are posting the material they had already prepared.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency which is not backed by any government or central bank.

Each bitcoin is 'mined' by users who use powerful computers to carry out complex mathematical equations.