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Islamic militants are using bitcoin and PayPal to fund terrorism in Indonesia, according to the head of a financial transaction and reporting agency, the Tribune News in Jakarta reported.

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Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin, the head of The Center for Financial Transaction Reporting and Analysis (INTRAC/PPATK) said conventional means are no longer being used to smuggle funds into the country. Unknown perpetrators are using PayPal and virtual currency based on cases the organization has examined.

Badaruddin said Bahrun Naim, a militant fighting alongside Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East, has masterminded terrorist acts in Indonesia using PayPal or bitcoin.

The agency detected more than twice as many fraudulent transactions linked to terrorism in 2016 from the prior year, advancing from 12 to 25 cases, causing the agency to tighten its scrutiny of financial transactions from overseas, according to The Straight Times.

Funds Channeled Across Java

Kiagus did not disclose the amount of money involved. He said the funds were directed to domestic terror cells across Java, which the country’s counter terrorism unit, Detachment 88, recently busted.


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The counter terrorism unit uncovered a string of local terror cells with ties to ISIS late last year. Most, if not all, of the cells received money and learned to make bombs and mount attacks from Indonesian ISIS fighters like Bahrun in Syria, who send instructions home using Telegram, Indonesia police chief Tito Karnavian recently stated.

One such cell planned to attack the Istana Merdeka presidential palace in Jakarta with a female suicide bomber, but the counter terrorism unit foiled the plot last month.

Also read: Bitcoin use gains traction in Indonesia

Fintech Calls For New Measures

More effort is required to track who is using bitcoin and PayPal, Badaruddin said. He said financial technology has made it harder to determine the identity of people using these methods, but this does not mean transactions cannot be tracked. He said several steps are needed to do this.

Ivan Yustiavanda, director of investigation and research, has said that perpetrators also use conventional means, but mix bitcoin with conventional currency. He said Internet access is not available everywhere, so it is sometimes necessary to use conventional banks.

Yustivanda said PayPal and bitcoin is a gray area. These tools have been used by offenders since 2013. INTRAC/PPATK has advised the Ministry of Communication and Information, as well as the Bank of Indonesia, to anticipate fintech use by lawbreakers.

Image from Shutterstock.

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