Militant Bahrun Naim used PayPal, bitcoin to transfer funds for terror attacks in Indonesia

Bahrun Naim, one of Indonesia's most notorious militants, had used online payment services such as PayPal and bitcoins to transfer money to fund terrorist activities.
Bahrun Naim, one of Indonesia's most notorious militants, had used online payment services such as PayPal and bitcoins to transfer money to fund terrorist activities.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Bahrun Naim, one of Indonesia's most notorious militants now fighting alongside ISIS in the Middle East, had used online payment services such as PayPal and bitcoins to transfer money to his comrades back home to fund terrorist activities, said anti-money-laundering agency PPATK on Monday (Jan 9).

PPATK Chairman Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin also told reporters that fraudulent transactions linked to terrorism detected by the agency had more than doubled from 12 to 25 cases last year (2016), prompting the agency to tighten its scrutiny of financial transactions from overseas.

These funds, the amount of which were not disclosed by Mr Kiagus during the briefing, were believed to have been directed to domestic terror cells across Java, which were recently busted by Indonesia's counter-terrorism police unit, Detachment 88 (Densus 88).

Mr Ivan Yustiavandana, director for examination and research at PPATK, told reporters in a doorstop interview that the culprits are trying to move funds around outside the conventional banking system to avoid detection.

"Today we are talking about PayPal, bitcoins. Two to three years from now, we may talk about other means, new ways. The more sophisticated we are at getting them, the more they will try to look for new ways," he said.

A spokesman from PayPal said in a statement that it is committed to combating terrorist financing and related financial crimes.

The spokesman added: "As part of these efforts, PayPal assists law enforcement in its work to identify and stop terror finance operations around the world. We take our commitment very seriously and devote significant resources globally to financial crime compliance.  We are in contact with the relevant authorities to ensure that we are taking all appropriate actions.”

Densus 88 had late last year uncovered a string of new local terror cells with ties to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Most, if not all, of these cells had received money and learnt to make bombs and mount attacks from Indonesian ISIS fighters such as Bahrun in Syria, who send instructions home using Telegram, a smartphone messaging app, Indonesia police chief Tito Karnavian said recently.

One of those cells had plans to attack the Istana Merdeka presidential palace in Jakarta with a female suicide bomber, but the plot was foiled by Densus 88 last month.