Cryptocurrencies are a natural payments option for terrorists—just ask the mainstream media. “The cryptocurrency-terrorism connection is too big to ignore,” reads one Washington Post op-ed headline from December 2018. “Criminals and terrorists are using unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges to move cash anonymously,” wrote a Fox News reporter in October.
But a new book from the RAND Corporation, Terrorist Use of Cryptocurrencies: Technical and Organizational Barriers and Future Threats, questions this prevalence. Are terrorist groups really using cryptocurrencies, the authors ask, and if not what would make cryptocurrencies better suited to terrorists’ aims?