As bizarre as it sounds, a marketplace for crowdfunding paramilitary mujahideen, those engaged in jihad, has been discovered on the dark web.
Accessible only through using the Tor browser, SadaqaCoins is very different from your average crowdfunding marketplace. Donors can send funds in the form of Bitcoin or Monero to help pay for 4x4 pickup trucks, .50 caliber bolt action rifles and ammunition, wind readers for sniping, silencers, and even combat training for aspiring jihadists.
CCN has written before on the subject of raising cryptocurrencies for Sadaqah, the act of alms-giving or charity. In this case, users can donate Bitcoin or Monero for a very different type of "Sadaqa."
The Bitcoin wallet on the site is empty at the time of writing, and while the site states that no money has been raised so far through Monero or Bitcoin donations, the site is less than a month old at the time of writing.
The site mentions four ways to support the project - advertising to others, buying cryptocurrency to donate, mining crypto for donations, or a fourth method, "hustling" in which the site encourages readers to hack or coerce cryptocurrency from non-Muslims in keeping with the concept of Ghanima, the act of taking "war booty" from non-believers by force. The site quotes Imam Shafi’i as saying
"Ghanima is property that the Muslims seize from the disbelievers by means of overpowering them."
SadaqaCoins was brought to light by open-source analyst Benjamin Strickland who wrote about it in late August a week after the site launched:
SadaqaCoins has just sprung up. This is the first ever crowdsource site on the dark web made specifically for jihadi projects to be funded through cryptocurrency payments. Some projects involve funding for a larger tor server, 4x4's or sniper lessons...https://t.co/ynwxQiKEvn
— Benjamin Strick (@BenDoBrown) August 23, 2018
Prices on project 'We Hunt' range from $550 for a .50 cal silencer up to $8,800 for a 4x4 all-terrain pickup vehicle, with other products including Kestrel 4500NV weather reading equipment to provide snipers with wind speeds and other info, Nikon p900 cameras for reconnaissance, ammunition of various types and calibers, sniper scopes, and of course sniper rifles themselves for $4,400.
'We Hunt' isn't the only crowdfunding page on the site. Another project posted today on September 13 is called 'The Forgotten Sisters' and claims to raise money to free five women imprisoned in Syria, listing their names and dates of imprisonment with a crowdfunding goal of $14,850 which is to be used for ransom.
A third project enables users to donate $220 to purchase livestock which will then be slaughtered in sacrificial prayer by the SadaqaCoins team on behalf of the donors for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha (festival of sacrifice) where this is a common practice.
Is the site for real?
There's certainly no conclusive proof that the site is genuinely funding paramilitary activity in the Middle East. The site has a contact page which only accepts encrypted email (CCN are still waiting on a response to comment requests at this time), but The Forgotten Sisters project, as well as the activity on the SadaqaCoins Twitter account, seems to suggest that the project is based in Syria.
The account follows Syrian investigative journalists as well as terrorism experts and watchdogs, and a user on Twitter commented that the livestock displayed on the account were marked in a way customary of Syrian farmers.
As Benjamin Strickland pointed out, the fact that project We Hunt has itemized and individual Bitcoin addresses for each individual weapon or product on the page also lends credence to the site.
Yes, it's possible that it's an elaborate scam. Between multiple blog posts, an FAQ page, an about page, and the various crowdfunding projects, many hours of work have been put into the site which sets it apart from the majority of online scams which are usually less sophisticated.
Indeed, apart from the outlandishly modern premise of crowdfunding anonymous cryptocurrencies to fund terrorist activity in the Middle East, there's really nothing to indicate that the site isn't exactly what it claims to be - a dark web marketplace for funding terrorists.
Featured image from Shutterstock.