Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 24 October 2023

Crypto's role in terrorist financing

GS Paper III 


Recently, Israel had frozen cryptocurrency accounts used to solicit donations for the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

 More details on news

  • Cryptocurrency’s role in terrorist financing and funding militant groups has come under renewed scrutiny following a deadly attack in Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas.
  • As per the UN, a couple of years ago 5% of terrorist attacks were considered to be financed by crypto, but this may go up to 20%.
  • According to FATF, crypto presents "increasing terrorist financing risks", but the "vast majority" of terrorist financing still uses regular money.
  • US. lawmakers have urged the government to crack down on the use of cryptocurrencies by Hamas and its affiliates.

What is crypto currency?

A crypto currency is a digital or virtual currency secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Most crypto currencies exist on decentralized networks using blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of crypto currencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.

Why is cryptocurrency used in illicit finance?

  • Anonymity: Anyone can set up a cryptocurrency wallet address, without always having to undergo checks such as those by a bank.
    • For example, addresses are pseudonymous – labelled only by a string of letters and numbers – which means people can send and receive cryptocurrency without revealing their identity.
  • Advanced privacy features: Some cryptocurrencies, such as Monero and Zcash, offer advanced privacy features which can be used for illicit purposes.
  • Decentralized nature: Cryptocurrencies operate on decentralized networks. This makes it challenging for authorities to regulate and track
  • Cross-border transactions: It makes it easier for criminals to move funds across international borders quickly and with reduced scrutiny.
  • Knowledge gap: Many including law enforcement agencies are still learning about cryptocurrencies and how they work. This makes it easier for criminals to take advantage of the technology.
  • Blockchain technology: The blockchain technology that underpins cryptocurrency operates digitally, across borders; it can act as an instant payments system.

Global efforts to counter terror finance

  • FIUs: Many countries have established Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) to collect, analyze, and disseminate information related to suspicious financial transactions.
  • UNSC resolution: The resolutions oblige member states to freeze the assets of individuals and entities associated with terrorist organizations and prevent the transfer of funds to these groups.
  • Sanctions: Many countries impose sanctions on individuals, entities, and countries involved in supporting terrorism.
  • International Cooperation: Countries cooperate with each other and with international organizations like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to share information for preventing terrorist financing.

Steps taken by India against terror finance

  • Strengthening of PMLA: Recently, the government’s brought crypto assets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
  • Strengthening UAPA: Strengthening the provisions in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to combat terror financing by criminalizing the production, smuggling or circulation of high-quality counterfeit Indian currency as a terrorist act.
  • TFFC:  A Terror Funding and Fake Currency (TFFC) Cell has been constituted in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to conduct a focused investigation of terror funding and fake currency cases.
  • FICN: Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) network is one of the channels of terror financing in India. 
  • Improved Safety features in currency: The latest notes are designed with advanced safety features, which make them hard to replicate.
  • A special Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Cell has been created in the Ministry of Home Affairs, to coordinate with the Central Intelligence/Enforcement Agencies, and the State Law Enforcement Agencies for an integrated approach to tackle the problem of terror funding.
  • Border security: Security at the international borders has been strengthened by using new surveillance technology and deploying additional manpower for round-the-clock surveillance.

Way forward:

  • Regulatory framework: A clear and comprehensive regulatory framework is required for cryptocurrencies to ensure that all cryptocurrency exchanges and related businesses are properly registered and regulated.
  • Strict KYC and AML procedures: Enforce strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures for cryptocurrency exchanges.
  • Invest in technologies: Invest in advanced technologies for monitoring and tracing cryptocurrency transactions to detect illicit activities.
  • Information sharing: Promote information sharing between banks, law enforcement agencies, and regulatory bodies.
  • Enhance the training: Enhance the training of law enforcement agencies and financial institutions in understanding and investigating cryptocurrency-related threats.
  • Multilateral Forums: Participate in international forums and working groups dedicated to discussing and countering the challenges posed by cryptocurrencies in terrorism financing.


The potential misuse of cryptocurrencies for terrorist financing is a serious concern. Hence, it is essential to address this issue through a combination of regulation, surveillance, education, international collaboration and technological solutions while maintaining a balanced approach that respects the benefits and opportunities that cryptocurrencies offer.

Prelims PYQ

  1. The terms WannaCry, Petya and EternalBlue’ sometimes mentioned in the news recently are related to (UPSC 2018)

(a) Exoplanets

(b) Cryptocurrency

(c) Cyber attacks

(d) Mini satellites

Dust Suppressants 


Delhi government to use dust suppressants to combat poor air quality.


  • Dust suppressants are substances that absorb moisture and are mixed with water to spray on roads and construction sites.
  • Adding dust suppressants with bio-additives can help to keep dust levels low for a longer period of time, specifically for five to six hours. In comparison, plain water is only effective for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Dust suppressants include –
    • Water
    • Salts (sodium, magnesium, or calcium chloride)
    • Organic non-petroleum adhesives (lignosulfonate, animal fats, tall oil, vegetable oil derivatives).
    • Organic petroleum products (asphalt, organic solvents, oils, tars).
    • Electrochemical products (enzymes, ionic solutions, sulfonated oils)
    • Synthetic polymers (polyvinyl acetate, vinyl acrylic emulsions)
    • Clay additives (bentonite, montmorillonite)
    • Fibers, Mulches, Geotextiles and Re-vegetation.

Exercise Harimau Shakti-2023


Ex Harimau Shakti is scheduled till 5th November 2023.


  • It is a joint bilateral military training exercise between India and Malaysia, currently taking place in Umroi Cantonment, Meghalaya, India.
  • The objective of this exercise is to boost the level of defence cooperation between the two armies and to enhance their military capabilities for conducting multi-domain operations along with the deployment of drones and helicopters.
  • The last edition of this exercise was conducted in Malaysia in 2022.

Pradhan Mantri Anusuchit Jaati Abhuyday Yojana (PM-AJAY)


Three centrally sponsored schemes namely Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY), Special Central Assistance to Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCA to SCSP) and Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana (BJRCY) have been merged.


  • The scheme aims to reduce poverty among SC communities by providing additional employment opportunities, improving infrastructure, and offering other initiatives in SC-dominated villages since 2021-22.
  • PM-AJAY is the collective name of three centrally sponsored It has the following components.
    • Development of SC-dominated villages into an “Adarsh Gram”
    • “Grants-in-aid” for District/State-level Projects for the socio-economic betterment of SCs - construction of schools, livelihood projects, etc.
    • Construction of hostels in higher educational institutions and schools.

Bharat National Cyber Security Exercise 2023


The Bharat National Cyber Security Exercise (NCX) 2023, took place in Delhi from October 9th to 20th October 2023.


  • It is organized by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) in strategic partnership with Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU).
  • It aims to equip the government, critical sector, and public/private agencies with the necessary skills to handle cyber threats and incidents. The objective is to educate senior management and technical personnel about modern cyber threats, as well as how to handle cyber incidents and responses.
  • It was the 2nd Edition of the National Cyber Security Exercise. Some of the topics covered are:
    • Intrusion Detection Techniques
    • Malware Information Sharing Platform (MISP)
    • Vulnerability Handling & Penetration Testing
    • Network Protocols & Data Flows and Digital Forensics
  • Bharat NCX 2023 showcased the innovation and resilience of Indian Cybersecurity startups and MSMEs.



Fluorescence is a common phenomenon in nature, occurring in some minerals and kingdoms of life.


  • It is a process where a molecule absorbs photons of shorter wavelengths and emits them as longer-wavelength photons.
  • It is a form of energy exchange that occurs in several species such as flowers, pitcher plants, corals, algae, worms, squid, spiders, stomatopods, fish, reptiles, and parrots.
  • This process has been suggested as a means of communication among these species.
  • Phosphorescence is similar to fluorescence, but the emitted light can last for much longer periods of time. Glow-in-the-dark stickers work based on phosphorescence.