An Islamic State affiliate is using popular digital payment system Bitcoin to help fund the purchase of weapons, The Foreign Desk has observed.
In an online campaign called ‘Jahezona’ or “Equip Us,” a Salafi-jihadi ISIS affiliate based in Gaza has been posting infographics of weapons such as heavy machine guns, RPG’s and sniper rifles, with prices ranging between $2,500 to $5,500 each.
Though previous donation methods are unclear, the jihadi group is now circulating a flyer with a QR code, Bitcoin logo and public key, as well as contact information and an encrypted email address.
Bitcoin, an online-based cryptocurrency, designed and stored digitally, anonymizes its owners and has no central authority. Experts have speculated that the Islamic State has used the online currency platform to raise money and to accept donations and sponsorships.
Endorsed by Gaza-based Ibn Taymiyyah Media Center, a Salafi media company, the group has also posted on ISIS message boards over the last two years, using Twitter and Telegram regularly to share infographics and videos.
They have also shared progress and campaign reports, revealing how the money is used. In one instance, they reported sponsoring bomb engineering courses.
The ISIS affiliate behind the campaign has also leveraged Ramadan, the Islamic holy month in which Muslims, in addition to fasting, traditionally donate to the needy, to solicit more donations.
In petitioning supporters to make donations, the group pushes ‘a different kind of jihad,’ or “Jihad Bil Maal,” in which monetary contributions take the place of physical violence, or traditional jihad.
Videos shared by the same campaign also reveal a purported IED manufacturing facility in Gaza where militants create bombs with shrapnel and other explosive devices.