Hamas Received $41 Million in Crypto in Lead Up to Attack on Israel
Investigations based on Israeli government seizure orders and blockchain analytics have indicated that Hamas, along with other militant groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hezbollah, received millions of dollars in crypto funding in the lead-up to the attack on Israel.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, crypto wallets linked to PIJ received as much as $93 million in cryptocurrency between August 2021 and June 2023, as revealed through analysis by crypto researcher Elliptic.
In a similar timeframe, wallets associated with Hamas received approximately $41 million in cryptocurrency, as reported by BitOK.
The recent attack by Hamas on Israel has raised some serious questions over Israeli intelligence agencies and cyber capabilities as they failed to intercept a major attack on the country.
Hamas Raised Millions in Crypto Despite Being Sanctioned
Despite being designated as foreign terrorist organizations and subject to sanctions, Hamas, PIJ, and Hezbollah have continued to raise donations and procure weaponry.
However, it remains uncertain whether cryptocurrency directly financed the attack.
Cryptocurrency transactions enable instant and anonymous transfers of tokens between digital wallets, making it difficult for authorities to trace and regulate.
This tactic has been exploited by various terrorist organizations in the past, including Islamic State and al Qaeda.
As reported earlier, the Israeli authorities have taken action to freeze cryptocurrency accounts used by Hamas for soliciting donations on social media platforms.
However, the exact amount of cryptocurrency seized was not disclosed.
Terror Financing Through Crypto Remains a Challenge for Governments
Hamas has been actively seeking cryptocurrency funds since at least 2019, primarily using its Telegram channel to request bitcoin donations.
Over time, the group has turned to payment processors to generate cryptocurrency addresses and obscure the true source of their funds, creating obstacles for investigators tracking transactions.
While cryptocurrency is just one of the fundraising methods used by these militant groups, it poses unique challenges for authorities.
Smuggling physical currency across borders can be risky and is more easily detectable, whereas cryptocurrency offers a discreet and efficient means of transferring funds.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a report in April highlighting that many decentralized finance (DeFi) services have failed to implement anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations.
Some DeFi services are not subject to existing AML/CFT regulations, while some jurisdictions lack robust AML/CFT controls in the realm of DeFi.