On 4th Septmeber, 2022, Wall Street Journal published an article revealing the use of NFT by Islamist militants. As per WSJ, the simple piece of digital art was found praising Islamic militants for an attack on a Taliban post in Afghanistan. According to the US intelligence officials, this non-fungible token (NFT) is the first known NFT created and circulated by terror sympathisers.
The NFT was registered on Opensea, which is one of the biggest NFT marketplaces at present. Although it was soon removed citing zero-tolerance policy of Opensea for listings that incite hate and violence.The trio of NFTs was also reportedly registered on NFT marketplace Rarible and several others before being taken down. The NFT titled “IS-NEWS #01″ is believed to an experiment of ISIS to test new outreach and fund gathering opportunities through the NFT ecosystem. This might be an alternate route these terror outfits are exploring in the times when the west is trying hard to eradicate their fundraising and communication efforts online.
Regulators and national-security officials have expressed their concern about the potential for terrorists to exploit new tech. The latest financial technologies and markets, including NFTs could well be their go to route while facing major hurdles in the mainstream due to counter measures by the west to curb terrorism. “It was only a matter of time,” said Yaya Fanusie, a former economic and counterterrorism analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.
The NFT was first discovered by Raphael Gluck, cofounder of a U.S.-based research firm, Jihadoscope. He discovered the NFT via pro-ISIS social-media accounts. In his words “It’s very much an experiment to find ways to make content indestructible.”
Mario Cosby, a former federal intelligence analyst specializing in blockchain currencies, said the user created another two other NFTs on Aug. 26; one showing an Islamic State fighter teaching students to make explosives and the other condemning smoking cigarettes. He further added by saying, “It’s as censorship-proof as you can get. There’s not really anything anyone can do to actually take this NFT down,”
The NFT is available on a platform called IPFS, a system that stores and retrieves data across an array of internet nodes, which would be extremely difficult to eliminate. This series of events is a matter of concern and authorities need to figure how such activity can be regulated and curbed. NFT is a rapidly growing tech but largely unregulated, leaving margin for unlawful activity and crime.
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