Militant Islamists in Indonesia have doubled financial transactions via bitcoin and PayPal, the authorities report. The popular messenger is used to instruct newbies.

According to the head of the Center for Financial Transaction Reporting and Analysis (PPATK) Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin, criminals have almost abandoned traditional means of remittances, while the number of fraudulent transactions related to terrorism increased in 2016 from 12 to 25 cases. A bulk of illegally transferred funds was sent to extremist groups located on Java. Most of the transactions were made by Naim Bahrum, an Islamic state commander who had fought in Iraq and Syria.

Badaruddin added that, in the end of 2016, the government forces uncovered a chain of terrorist cells in the country related to ISIS. Many of them received money and learnt to build explosive devices from ISIS fighters like Bahrum via a special Telegram channel, the chief of the Indonesian police Tito Karnavian revealed. Among recently prevented terrorist attacks, one, admittedly by a female suicide bomber, targeted the presidential palace in Jakarta. The attempt was busted by the special police unit Densus 88.

Indonesian counter-terrorist forces insist on strengthening the state control over bitcoin and PayPal transactions.

“Fintech makes it a bit more difficult to identify a person; which does not mean it cannot be done, it just takes a few more steps to track it, so we need to be vigilant,” Badaruddin explained as quoted by Tribune News.

The use of cryptocurrencies in Indonesia is not regulated by law. In 2014, the country’s central bank issued a warning against bitcoin stating that it is not legally recognised as a currency or payment method. Yet the number of bitcoin users in Indonesia has significantly increased over the last few years. According to Jakarta Post, the daily volume of cryptocurrency transactions in the country has reached $1.48 million.

Elena Platonova

Image via Flickr