Bitcoin tends to attract anarchists and political radicals. But few are as committed to the cause as Amir Taaki — a prominent Bitcoin developer who is reportedly under investigation after joining an anarchist movement in Syria and fighting ISIS.
“When I found out there was an actual anarchist revolution happening in Syria, I felt, ‘I have to do that.’ I was compelled to go help them,” he told Wired.
Taaki was previously famous for his radical political ideology, and his work on DarkWallet — bitcoin wallet software that makes transactions using the digital currency private and untraceable.
Once in Syria, despite going out with the intention of offering technical support, Taaki found himself forced to fight instead.”I got sent to the frontline. I had no training, and I was given a Kalashnikov. I learnt how to use a gun on the way, another Western fighter showed me,” he said to the BBC. “I wanted to go elsewhere, where my skills would be useful.”
He says he subsequently provided software training, designed a curriculum, and helped build factories. “My main goal with going to Rojava was not because I opposed ISIS, it’s because I support their [the Kurds’] revolution. I support their politics and their struggle,” he said. “It is the only solution for lasting peace in the Middle East.”
He returned to the UK in 2016 — and has reportedly spent the last year on police bail. The authorities are reportedly concerned that he may have traveled to Syria to support or join ISIS — something he strongly denies — and his passport still hasn’t been returned.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told the BBC: “Everyone who returns from taking part in the conflict in Syria or Iraq must expect to be reviewed by the police to determine if they have committed criminal offences and to ensure that they do not pose a threat to our national security.”