Binance, TRM Labs provided key intel in ISIS members’ arrest

The joint investigation with Tajikistan authorities resulted in the arrest of individuals connected to a regional ISIS affiliate


Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capitol; Source: Ronan Shenhav/Shutterstock, modified by Blockworks


Binance said its investigative team aided in capturing ISIS-linked individuals in Tajikistan and Turkey.

The crypto exchange said it played a role in the arrest of several individuals linked to the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IKSP), an affiliate of the broader militant group, including ranking member Shamil Hukumatov.

“These ISKP members were actively involved in imminent attack planning, and their arrests are regarded as a huge win for counterterrorism efforts both regionally and globally,” Binance said in a blog on Friday. 

Since Dec. 2022, Tajikistan’s Financial Monitoring Department and TRM Labs collaborated with the exchange to mitigate risks from the IKSP, the blog said.

Additional agencies from Tajikistan, like the State Committee for National Security, also participated in the operation.

Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crime at Binance, told Fortune that the probe entailed scrutinizing a Telegram channel frequented by ISIS affiliates and subsequently identifying the cryptocurrency wallet a terrorist leader used for receiving donations.

A Binance spokesperson told Blockworks that the company’s investigations team members perform routine open-source threat intelligence scans. 

“It was during these routine scans that this particular Telegram group was identified,” they added.

Nonetheless, specifics about how Binance managed to locate the individual were not disclosed.

A spokesperson for the Financial Monitoring Department said that intelligence and investigative assistance from Binance was instrumental in advancing its counterterrorism efforts.

“This led to successful arrests of key ISKP members that we’ve been targeting for a while now,” the spokesperson added.

The move highlights Binance’s involvement in collaborating with law enforcement to track down crypto assets related to organized crime.

Markus Thielen, Matrixport’s research chief, noted that Binance has cooperated with law enforcement on multiple occasions to halt illicit activities and identify the individuals responsible for such transactions.

He expects illicit activities to shift to mixers and decentralized exchanges.

“The result will likely be that more of those illicit activities will move to mixers, such as Tornado Cash, and other decentralized exchanges,” he told Blockworks.

Tornado Cash was sanctioned by the US Treasury last year, meaning that US residents are prohibited from dealing with the crypto mixer.

Binance has previously faced allegations of circumventing legal frameworks, including claims that it bypassed US sanctions to permit trading for customers in Iran and Russia. Additionally, reports suggested the exchange enabled users in China to evade local regulatory barriers.

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