How to Fight Al-Qaeda and ISIS Using Bitcoin And Shift Balance of Power

US House Bill 2433 is on the floor of Congress awaiting a vote. The session started again today, and the bill calls for the “Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis” to conduct a threat assessment on virtual currency and its potential use by terrorists. Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-D) introduced this bill as a reaction to the recent “Wanna Cry Ransomware” attack.

Also, and peculiarly timed, was the Representative’s pointing to a newly-minted report by the “Center for a New American Security,” about how virtual currency could scale and be used by terrorists on a more frequent basis, and that this threat should be contained.

As it happens, the end result of this bill will be a threat assessment on the desk of the under secretary of homeland security for intelligence and analysis … where the nominee is currently before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee today - Mr. David Glaine.

Al-Qaeda is a US-made database

While the report points to potential lone wolf attacks, the main focus, at least from its cover, appears to be the threat of ISIS.

But let’s go back for a moment in time and look at what ISIS is, and how it started its funding.

ISIS is a spinoff from Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is linked to Osama Bin Laden and 9-11 … but, what is Al-Qaeda? What is ISIS?

I believe it can be argued that Al-Qaeda is a database.

It is terrifying to think that our enemy, if not a country like in the good old days of the Cold War, could be a scattered bunch of individuals on the fringe, to which there is no “single point of failure.” Al-Qaeda is nothing more than the database of those individuals whom the US used to support back in the 1980s when the Soviet-Afghanistan war raged, and the US made sure we kept the Afghan rebels armed and dangerous. The ending of the Cold War signified the end of us being particularly interested in Afghanistan as an ally, that perhaps led to some vengeful thinking, on the part of Osama Bin Laden. Either which way, the “database” evolved from those whom we supported with weapons, to those who quickly became enemies of the US state after 9/11.

I’m not saying Al-Qaeda does not “exist,” but it is not some Muslim fundamentalist creation that calls America evil because one day the Middle Eastern inhabitants said, you know, our lives suck because of the West. It’s that Al-Qaeda does exist, and it’s “Made in the USA.”

Digital currencies

So, as Obama has been maligned for not containing ISIS, originating out of Al-Qaeda, a report a couple of years ago identified the major sources of funding for terrorist organizations:

  • Donations from wealthy individuals from the Persian Gulf
  • Recruitment
  • Kidnapping and ransom
  • Human trafficking
  • Extortion, taxes and checkpoints
  • Control over natural resources
  • Robbery
  • Oil smuggling

That’s right, Osama’s followers were not using virtual currency at scale to launch terrorist attacks.  The fact that in 2014, $3 mln a day in funding was coming into ISIS likely had more to do with ISIS being able to scale through the Internet.  Does this mean we need to shut down the spread of information to contain ISIS?  

Technology is like the US dollar - it does not have a conscience, and is used for good or bad based on the owner’s intention.  Would you accuse Albert Einstein of inventing the atom bomb?  Certainly not, anymore than you might point fingers at the Barefoot Contessa for your large belly - she merely introduced the recipe, it was the Food Network that broadcast the delicious brownies.  

Global deaths

My favorite quote from Albert Einstein is when he points out:

“The problems we have today cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.”  

We cannot put virtual currency back in the bottle any more than we can put the Internet away … where would we be today?  Would you even be reading what I am writing?  

Facts are that the death toll from wars around the world, in general, are down...that’s right - lower than in the past.  World Wars I and II were horrific bloodbaths but since the age of the Internet, these numbers are way down.  

See the graph below:

Global deaths in conflicts since the year 1400

Al Qaeda 2.0

Yes, ISIS gets its headlines with its inhumane and unspeakable beheadings, but the attention to this is overwhelming because we all have so many ways of quickly gathering information erroneously leading us to believe that a lone wolf or an ISIS member is in the trunk of your car while checking Twitter on your drive home.

"So, if Al Qaeda is a database, and you’re still reading, then guess what’s been said of Bitcoin - it’s a database too!"

That’s right, that’s what has everyone all super-excited about these days, with token and cryptocurrency offerings, a market capitalization that recently passed over $100 bln, but here’s the best part - while Al Qaeda is a database maintained by the US intelligence agencies, ISIS is Al Qaeda 2.0.  

So, if Blockchain is “Bitcoin 2.0”, well then, it’s time we started engaging with the virtual currency wallet providers and exchanges, think crowdsource social intelligence gathering, and find ways for an ISIS member or Lone Wolf to buy a Bitcoin (or an Ether, or simply insert virtual currency here).

Where is Bitcoin going to next

Just like we have a watch list for airplanes, we can have a watch list for those people, who, similar to how they open a bank account may get flagged by