The first case of an unfaithful token (NFT) created and shared by a “terrorist sympathizer” has come to light, raising concerns that the immutable nature of blockchain technology could help spread terrorist messages and propaganda.
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In an article published Sept. 4 in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), intelligence experts said NFT could be a sign that the Islamic State and other terrorist groups could use blockchain technology to evade sanctions and raise money for terrorist campaigns.
The digital token, dubbed “IS-NEWS #01”, is said to be an image bearing the Islamic State emblem with text praising Afghanistan-based Islamic militants for attacking a Taliban position.
Mario Cosby, a former federal intelligence analyst specializing in blockchain currencies, said the user created two more NFTs in August. One showed an Islamic State fighter teaching students how to make explosives, while the other denounced smoking.
The digital token was reportedly listed on NFT marketplace OpenSea, but the company quickly downgraded the listing and shut down the poster account, citing a “zero-tolerance policy for inciting hatred and violence.”
The NFT trio was also spotted on the NFT market in Rarible and a few other places before it was removed.
While none of the NFTs appear to have been traded, Cosby says the existence of the tokens is a cause for concern because they are “as censorship-proof as you can get.”
“There’s not really anything anyone can do to actually take this NFT down.”
Security experts have previously expressed concern about the potential for terrorists to leverage emerging technologies and markets, including NFTs, to finance attacks.
In March, Israeli authorities seized 30 crypto wallets from 12 exchange accounts linked to Hamas, a militant group based in the Gaza Strip.