Hamas' Extensive Crypto Fundraising Detailed by WSJ

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Oct 13, 2023 at 09:58 am

Although the cryptocurrency donations received are significant, they pale in comparison to the substantial backing from state sponsors.

Recently, a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing data from forensics firm Elliptic and Tel Aviv software company BitOK, disclosed that the Hamas terrorist organization and its affiliated groups have collected millions in cryptocurrency contributions.

Elliptic's findings indicate that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad accumulated roughly $93 million in cryptocurrency between August 2021 and June 2023. During the same period, Hamas received an estimated $41 million in digital currency donations.

Cryptocurrency is often seen as an alternative financing avenue for entities and nations excluded from the U.S.-dominated global financial network. Notably, North Korean hackers have amassed substantial sums in cryptocurrency through the hacking of various protocols and projects. The privacy-centric nature of many cryptocurrencies makes it challenging to trace these financial transactions, a source of concern for government agencies.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant acknowledged the complexities of this task, remarking in an interview with the WSJ:

 "This is not an easy task."

In June, Bitsday reported that the militant wing of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, received up to $100,000 in bitcoin (BTC) since the beginning of 2021. Donations surged in May, coinciding with a period of intense conflict between Israel and Hamas, which involved rocket attacks. Binance played a pivotal role in facilitating these transactions, as revealed by data from three blockchain analytics firms and independent analysis by Bitsday.

Nonetheless, it's crucial to highlight that cryptocurrency represents a supplementary funding source for Hamas and affiliated groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah based in Lebanon. Iran remains the primary funding source, contributing an estimated $100 million annually, according to information from the U.S. government.

Ari Redbord, Head of Legal and Government Affairs at blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs, emphasized:

"Crypto is a very small part of Hamas’ fundraising strategy. It’s mostly state-sponsored." He added, "There’s a focus on it because you are trying to cut off financing by any means. But it’s a relatively small part of the picture."

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