|A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency bitcoin / Reuters-Yonhap|
Two foreign nationals residing in Korea have been arrested for funding an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group using cryptocurrency, police said Thursday.
A 31-year-old Uzbek man and a 29-year-old Kazakh man were sent to the Supreme Prosecutors Office on Jan. 17 on charges of breaking the anti-terrorism and anti-terrorist funding acts, according to the National Office of Investigation of the National Police Agency.
The funds were delivered to Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, or KTJ, an anti-Syrian government terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaida, via a cryptocurrency broker, the police said. The United Nations designated KTJ as a terrorist group in March 2022.
Seven other foreigners who funded KTJ with the two suspects were deported in December last year, police said.
The case marks the first time foreigners here have been caught funding a terrorist group in cryptocurrencies, investigators said.
The Uzbek is suspected of collecting some 10 million won ($ 7,770) by instigating other foreigners in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, since August 2021, and sending the funds to KTJ.
The Kazakh allegedly sent 1 million won worth of cryptocurrency to KTJ, according to the police.
The police are pushing an extended probe into the case, expecting there may be more foreigners living in South Korea who are involved in funding terrorism. (Yonhap)