Hamas, a well-known militant group, has been a recipient of significant financial support from Iran for its activities, including acts of terrorism. However, recent investigations have uncovered another source of funding for Hamas: online donors providing support in the form of cryptocurrency.
Even before the recent Hamas attack on Israel, the US Justice Department had been actively investigating the group’s use of cryptocurrency and alleged money laundering operations. Details about this case are limited due to most court filings being sealed. However, the investigation is based on Hamas-linked cryptocurrency accounts seized by the US government three years ago. In May, it was noted that the case was ongoing, and related civil proceedings were put on hold to avoid interference.
In addition to Iran’s financial support, cryptocurrency addresses associated with Hamas and another Palestinian militant group have been seized by Israeli authorities, collectively worth tens of millions of dollars, according to private analysts.
Hamas has turned to digital currency as one of its methods to raise funds while evading sanctions. They have used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter (formerly known as Twitter) to post cryptocurrency wallet addresses and encourage donations. Some individuals have openly admitted to donating to Hamas via Instagram and Bitcoin.
Efforts to curb such transactions have prompted Hamas to make occasional changes in their fundraising methods. While they announced in April that they would stop using Bitcoin to protect donors, Israeli authorities recently froze additional cryptocurrency accounts used by Hamas during the latest conflict.
It is unclear exactly how much money Hamas has received through cryptocurrency, but reports suggest they have accumulated substantial sums. Tracking these funds is complicated due to the group’s use of one-time-use crypto addresses and illicit exchanges that convert cryptocurrency into cash without leaving a trace.
Apart from cryptocurrency, Iran remains a significant supporter of Hamas, providing millions of dollars annually to various Palestinian terrorist groups. The US Treasury Department has exposed how Iran funneled funds to Hamas through intermediaries based in Turkey and Lebanon, among other methods.
Hamas also raises funds through informal taxes and smuggling. Although the group has found various ways to finance its activities, governments and investigators continue to monitor and take action against these financial channels.
Hamas representatives were not available for comment on these allegations.
In addition to government investigators, attorney Asher Perlin, who represents the family of an American victim of a Hamas attack, has been tracking the group’s assets. His clients obtained a substantial judgment against Hamas, and they sought to collect it through a forfeiture case related to cryptocurrency accounts linked to the group. However, the case has faced repeated delays as the government has prioritized a related criminal investigation into alleged money laundering for Hamas. Perlin is frustrated that the Justice Department has indicated it may oppose allocating any forfeited assets to his clients.
In summary, while Iran has been a major source of financial support for Hamas, the group has also turned to cryptocurrency and social media to raise funds, making it a challenge for authorities to track and disrupt their funding streams.
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