French police has arrested 29 accomplaces financing a jihadist network in Syria. They have allegedly been supporting the operations of an Al-Qaeda affiliate terror organization, called “Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham” since 2019.
To cover their tracks, the criminals reportedly used cryptocurrency coupons from licensed tobacco shops across France. The members of the network were detained after they had been engaged in purchasing cryptocurrency coupons worth between 10 and 150 euros each in recent months.
The ring’s creators are two French jihadists, who are both thought to be in northeastern Syria at present. Both were sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia in 2016.
Tobacco shops started selling Bitcoin in Jan 2019. The tobacco shops act as intermediaries; processing support is provided by Keplerk, a French cryptocurrency wallet provider. Customers can purchase Bitcoin for 50, 100 or 250 euros. The tobacco shop then provides a ticket with an alphanumeric and a QR codes for obtaining the purchased bitcoins via Keplerk’s website. Keplerk takes 7% fee from each payment, 1.25 of which then goes to the shop.
According to the French magazine Capital, there are 24,000 tobacco shops currently offer cryptoacross the country.