Media Reported Hamas Got Millions Via Crypto, but the Data Provider They Cited Says It Was Misconstrued
After Hamas’ deadly attacks in Israel, media reports linked the terrorist group with tens of millions in crypto donations, but that data was misinterpreted and hugely exaggerated, according to the blockchain analytical firm that was cited.
In response, a Wall Street Journal reporter has suggested the data company, Elliptic, told a different story in July. Ian Talley, the journalist, was one of the authors of the Oct. 10 Journal piece that noted more than $90 million in crypto went to terrorist groups, attributing the claim to Elliptic data.
In a blog post this week, Elliptic said that while Hamas “has begun to experiment” with digital-asset fundraising, “the amounts raised remain tiny compared to other funding sources.”
Elliptic said the company has been in contact with the newspaper to clarify this point. The newspaper didn’t immediately respond to CoinDesk’s requests for comment, but Talley took to X on Wednesday in an attempt to contrast Elliptic’s current statements with its post in July that the newspaper relied on.
The reporter highlighted portions of the July post that said cited Israeli seizures of “crypto wallets worth $94 million linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” which coordinates with Hamas.
Allegations of a crypto-Hamas storyline sparked a major response from more than 100 U.S. lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who leaned into the reports to further justify her legislative push to go after money laundering and sanctions abuses in crypto. The more recent post from Elliptic suggests the terrorism-funding problem may be far less pointed.
“The most prominent public crypto fundraising campaign has been operated by Gaza Now, a pro-Hamas news organization,” according to Elliptic. “However, only $21,000 in cryptocurrency has been donated since October 7th, and thanks to the efforts of crypto businesses and researchers, much of this has been frozen.”
Meanwhile, Elliptic noted that the other side of the ledger – charitable giving to support the victims of violence there – has received much more than that.
Also this week, the Blockchain Innovation Project – led by two former members of Congress, David McIntosh, an Indiana Republican, and Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat – sent a letter to Sen. Warren and others to counter the lawmakers’ recent claims.
Warren’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the confusion.
The crypto connection to terrorism in that region is present to some degree, however, noted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury when it targeted Hamas-supporting crypto wallets – and at least one business that handled bitcoin transactions.
As Elliptic noted in its blog post, Hamas said it stopped fundraising in crypto in April, with the group noting that blockchains are a danger because they expose supporters to the authorities.