sunny.png
Sunday May 16th, 2021 12:03PM

French arrest 29 in cryptcurrency scheme to finance jihadis

By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — French police arrested 29 people around the country on Tuesday in a vast operation to break a complex scheme financing Islamist extremists in Syria through the use of cryptocurrencies.

A statement from the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said search warrants are out for the two main figures in the scheme, French jihadis who have likely been in northwest Syria since 2013 and are suspected of creating “the architecture of this network of terrorism financing.”

They were identified only as Mesut S. and Walid F., both 25 years old, and suspected of being members of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, affiliated with al-Qaida. They were both convicted in France in 2016 and sentenced in absentia to 10-year prison terms.

The 29 people detained for questioning Tuesday are aged 22 to 66. Most of them are suspected of injecting funds into the network. Two of them are thought to have had key roles in the cyber-financing system, providing logistical aid to keep it working.

The scheme to use cryptocurrency - a digital currency that can provide various levels of anonymity - to finance extremist groups was initially uncovered by a team within the French Economy Ministry, called Tracfin, that traces fiscal fraud, money laundering and terror financing.

Since 2013, the main method of financing jihadis had been via cash sent to people in countries neighboring Syria. That evolved into a more sophisticated, less visible system as surveillance tightened.

France opened an investigation in January when Tracfin detected a sophisticated network of funds transfers to French jihadis remaining in Syria, the statement said.

Tuesday’s arrests targeted a financing network that has been active since 2019. It was based mainly on the purchase in France of cryptocurrency coupons whose details were transferred by secure messaging to jihadis in Syria, who could then retrieve the money through cryptocurrency platforms,

The prosecutor’s office said that dozens of people in France constantly and anonymously bought cryptocurrency coupons worth 10 to 150 euros ($11 to $165). The coupons were credited to accounts opened abroad by jihadis who then converted them into cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies can be sold for cash on online exchanges.

Hundreds of thousands of euros are thought to have been supplied via the network, benefiting members of al-Qaida still hiding out in northwest Syria, but also jihadis of the Islamic State group, which has been on the run since its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died during a raid by U.S. forces in October 2019.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Greece: Cruise ship cleared to go after COVID scare
Health inspectors in Greece say an emergency docking order for a cruise ship near Athens can now be lifted after crew members suspected of having been infected with COVID-19 tested negative
12:03PM ( 5 minutes ago )
North Macedonia: Former PM sentenced to 1½ years in prison
A criminal court in North Macedonia has sentenced  former conservative prime minister Nikola Gruevski to 1 1/2 years in prison, and handed suspended sentences to six other party members and supporters for orchestrating violence in 2013
11:54AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Women's issues at UN: Still 'too low down on the agenda'
This year's U.N. General Assembly came as the world body prepared to commemorate a milestone in women's rights: the 25th anniversary of the Beijing women’s conference that produced a global roadmap for gender equality
11:51AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Stocks move lower as investors wait for presidential debate
Stocks were lower in mid-morning trading as the market cooled off following a rally the day before and as investors waited for the debate later Tuesday between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump
11:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
Consumer confidence posts solid gain to 101.8 in September
U.S. consumer confidence posted a better-than-expected gain in September but remains well below the levels reached before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy in the spring
11:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
Survey: In Hollywood, few believe harassers will be punished
Three years into the #MeToo movement, a major Hollywood survey led by Anita Hill has found little faith in the ranks of the entertainment industry that sexual harassers will be held to account
11:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Greece: Cruise ship cleared to go after COVID scare
Health inspectors in Greece say an emergency docking order for a cruise ship near Athens can now be lifted after crew members suspected of having been infected with COVID-19 tested negative
12:03PM ( 5 minutes ago )
North Macedonia: Former PM sentenced to 1½ years in prison
A criminal court in North Macedonia has sentenced  former conservative prime minister Nikola Gruevski to 1 1/2 years in prison, and handed suspended sentences to six other party members and supporters for orchestrating violence in 2013
11:54AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Women's issues at UN: Still 'too low down on the agenda'
This year's U.N. General Assembly came as the world body prepared to commemorate a milestone in women's rights: the 25th anniversary of the Beijing women’s conference that produced a global roadmap for gender equality
11:51AM ( 16 minutes ago )
NTSB: Regulators failed at jobs in limo crash that killed 20
Federal investigators examining the 2018 crash of a stretch limousine that killed 20 people in upstate New York say state regulators repeatedly failed to oversee a poorly maintained vehicle with corroded brakes
11:48AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Armenia says warplane downed; Azerbaijan and Turkey deny it
Armenia said one of its warplanes was shot down by a fighter jet from Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey, killing the pilot, in fighting over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh
11:44AM ( 23 minutes ago )