LONDON: Terrorism and intelligence experts have warned that Daesh may be looking to the market for non-fungible tokens to spread its propaganda after a digital ad praising Daesh for an attack on a Taliban convoy was spotted on various NFT platforms.
The news was met with great concern as experts are concerned that due to the nature of the blockchain, Daesh could exploit the technology to help spread terrorist messages and propaganda.
The NFT, according to intelligence analysts, could be an indication that Daesh and other terrorist organizations are also adopting blockchain technology to avoid sanctions and generate cash for their efforts.
“Since I became aware in 2016 that there were efforts in the crypto space to allow media to be published on blockchains, I felt that terrorist groups would eventually use that ability to publish messages and media,” Yaya Fanusie, former economics analyst and counterterrorism. at the CIA, said Arab News. “It was only a matter of time.”
NFTs are digital items that belong to the person who buys them, with the purchase record kept in an unalterable public ledger, the blockchain. Although the transactions can be traced, they are characterized by being irreversible and the people who trade often use pseudonyms.
The NFT, titled “IS-NEWS #01”, was first discovered by Raphael Gluck, co-founder of Jihadoscope, a company that monitors jihadist activity on the web and social media, who found the NFT through social media accounts. pro-ISIS social
‘IS-NEWS #01’ was created by a supporter of the group and contains a message praising Afghanistan-based Islamic militants for attacking a Taliban position in Kabul.
The supporter created two other NFTs, one of which shows a technician in a lab suit and gas mask, who experts believed could be a Daesh fighter teaching students how to make explosives.
US intelligence officials argue that “it is an experiment to test a new disclosure and funding strategy for Daesh,” and analysts believe the three NFTs are an attempt by Daesh supporters to see if NFTs would prohibit or limit the availability of the content.
“It’s very much an experiment … to find ways to make content indestructible,” Gluck said.
Although not available for purchase, the three digital tokens were published on various NFT platforms, including Rarible and OpenSea, before being removed.
Marketplace OpenSea quickly removed the digital collectibles and closed the creator’s account. The company later released a statement saying the platform has a “zero tolerance policy on hate speech and violence.”
However, NFTs are still available on a platform called IPFS, a peer-to-peer network designed to store and retrieve data over the Internet, making it almost impossible to completely remove them from the Internet.
“There is really nothing anyone can do to take down this NFT,” said blockchain analyst Mario Cosby. “It’s as censor-proof as possible.”
Militant organizations in the region have struggled to maintain a reliable source of income, causing these groups to focus their operations on spreading misinformation on the Internet and campaigns to boost their fundraising efforts.
New technologies such as NFTs and blockchain have been at the center of much criticism due to their low level of security, and experts have previously raised concerns about their possible abuse by terrorist organizations and other criminal groups.