A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the United States is calling on the Biden administration to take swift action against the use of cryptocurrencies by Hamas and its affiliated groups. This urgent plea follows a deadly attack carried out by the Palestinian militant organization in Israel earlier this month.
On Tuesday, 105 lawmakers, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Roger Marshall, and Representative Sean Casten, sent a letter to both the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House expressing "grave concern" over the use of digital assets by Hamas and an associated group known as Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The lawmakers are worried that these groups are exploiting cryptocurrencies to finance their activities and evade U.S. sanctions.
The letter emphasized the need for decisive action, stating, "Congress and this administration must take strong action to thoroughly address crypto illicit finance risks before it can be used to finance another tragedy."
Israel has taken proactive measures in response to the threat. Israeli police announced on October 10th that they had frozen several cryptocurrency accounts that were being used to solicit donations for Hamas. In fact, Reuters reported earlier this year that Israel had seized approximately 190 crypto accounts on the Binance exchange since 2021, including dozens that were allegedly connected to Palestinian companies associated with Hamas. Binance confirmed that it had been working closely with international counter-terrorism authorities regarding these seizures.
Cryptocurrencies were originally hailed by the community for their potential to facilitate anonymous transactions. However, the increasing number of federal enforcement actions for fraud, money laundering, and unregistered coin offerings has drawn attention to the industry's challenges.
Hamas has been utilizing a global financing network to receive support from charitable organizations and friendly nations, often involving cryptocurrencies, as reported by Reuters. Israeli authorities have seized what has been described as "tens of millions of dollars" in cryptocurrency from addresses linked to Hamas over the past few years, according to blockchain researchers at TRM Labs.
The lawmakers are now urging the Biden administration to provide estimates on the value of crypto assets that may still be held in Hamas-controlled wallets, the extent to which crypto funds Hamas' operations, and any information regarding the facilitators of cryptocurrency transfers to and from Hamas and other militant groups.
This call to action reflects the increasing concern about the illicit use of cryptocurrencies for funding illegal activities, emphasizing the need for stronger regulatory measures and international cooperation to combat this growing threat.
By fLEXI tEAM