The Islamic State looks to NFTs as a way to spread propaganda

6 Sep 2022

Image: © Rokas/

There are concerns that the terrorist organisation could gain new funding and support through the sale of NFTs.

An NFT showing support for the Islamic State has been circulating online, prompting fears of a potential resurrection of the terrorist organisation’s funding.

Citing former senior US intelligence officials, the Wall Street Journal reports that this is the first known NFT created and spread by a “terrorist sympathiser”.

The NFT, titled IS-NEWS #01, bears the emblem of the organisation, along with a message praising the Islamic State for a recent attack on a Taliban position in Afghanistan.

The NFT and two others from the same creator supporting the Islamic State were found on NFT marketplaces such as Rarible and OpenSea. The digital tokens have been taken down from these sites but, due to the technology behind NFTs, they are nearly impossible to be taken off the internet entirely.

An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a digital file that verifies identity and ownership using blockchain technology. NFTs have largely been used for images and artwork, but the technology has other potential applications.

The Islamic State utilised social media in spreading videos of its messages when it rose to power, before losing nearly all of its territory in 2017. The loss of this territory cut off its primary source of funding, while Western authorities and social media took measures to reduce the organisation’s presence online.

Analysts told the Wall Street Journal that terrorist groups could finance their operations through NFT sales. There are also concerns that terrorist organisations could use this technology to sidestep attempts to cut off their funding and propaganda.

“It’s as censorship-proof as you can get,” former federal intelligence analyst Mario Cosby told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s not really anything anyone can do to actually take this NFT down.”

The ability of NFTs to track digital assets is being explored by various organisations and industries. For example, educational publisher Pearson is considering turning its textbooks into NFTs as a way to get a cut of the second-hand sales market.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic