U.S. Embassy’s Webinar Series on Dark Web and Cryptocurrency Provides Tools to Fight Transnational Crime and Terrorism

Almost 50 Bangladeshi criminal justice officials and financial analysts will participate in the series, learning how dark web and cryptocurrency technology facilitates cross-border criminal activity, and how to detect and deter it.

Dhaka, July 13, 2020 – Last week, the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (DOJ-OPDAT) launched a three-part webinar series entitled “Criminal Influences on the Dark Web and in the Use of Cryptocurrency.”  Almost 50 prosecutors, investigators, judges, financial analysts, and government officials from Bangladesh met virtually through an interactive online platform to learn how criminal organizations use the dark web and cryptocurrency to conduct drug trafficking, money laundering, and other nefarious activities.  The instructor for the course is the Department of Justice’s John Ghose, who is the International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Attorney for the Dark Web and Cryptocurrency.

United States Ambassador Earl Miller opened the webinar series, praising law enforcement heroes, including all participants, who bravely and selflessly meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.  He noted they “have my respect, admiration, and gratitude for the very difficult and dangerous job [they] do so very well.”  Ambassador Miller also praised Bangladesh for continuing “to strengthen anti-terrorism efforts on many fronts – through its robust anti-money laundering measures, standing up additional Anti-Terrorism Tribunals around the country, and expanding digital evidence efforts to investigate and prosecute terrorist crimes being committed with computers and through digital media,” and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to assisting Bangladesh in its efforts.

The first session of the series, entitled “Combating Criminal Dark Web Marketplaces during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” focused on how criminals use the dark web, through anonymous browsers and hidden services, to capitalize on the anxiety resulting from the pandemic.  For example, criminals are using the dark web to sell fake test kits, substandard personal protection equipment, fake vaccines and treatment drugs, and even blood allegedly carrying coronavirus antibodies.  During the session, participants learned ways to detect and interrupt such reprehensible activities.

The second and third sessions of the series will focus on cryptocurrency – illegal to use or possess in Bangladesh – as a vehicle for payments at dark web marketplaces.  The second session entitled “Introduction to Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology” will address cryptocurrency and blockchain fundamentals.  Deputy Secretary Seikh Golam Mahbub from Bangladesh’s Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs, is expected to deliver opening remarks at the session.

The third session entitled “Advanced Cryptocurrency – Tracing Cryptocurrency to Make Cases,” will address techniques for de-anonymizing cryptocurrency transactions.  Mr. Abu Hena Mohd. Razee Hassan, the Head of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), is expected to deliver opening remarks at the session.

Conducting the three-part “Criminal Influences on the Dark Web and in the Use of Cryptocurrency” webinar series is just one of the many ways the United States works together with the Government of Bangladesh to fight terrorism and transnational crime in the region.  Understanding cryptocurrency and how terrorists and transnational criminal networks use it because of its anonymity and decentralized, nationless characteristics, and how to detect and interrupt its usage, will be as essential to the Bangladeshi justice sector as it is to the U.S. justice sector in fighting the financing of terrorism and transnational crimes.

Since 2016, the United States has obligated over $63.5 million cumulatively for counterterrorism assistance in Bangladesh, including this webinar series offered by OPDAT.