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In a recent update, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has issued a correction to an article that inaccurately portrayed the extent to which Hamas and other militant groups utilized cryptocurrencies to fund their terrorism activities. The correction comes after Elliptic, the firm from which WSJ sourced its data, pointed out the errors.
Original Article Mischaracterization
The original article, published on October 10 and titled “Hamas Militants Behind Israel Attack Raised Millions in Crypto,” relied on blockchain forensics firm Elliptic’s data to claim that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist organization operating in the Gaza Strip, had raised as much as $93 million between August 2021 and June 2023.
However, Elliptic clarified that this did not imply that PIJ raised these funds for financing terrorism. Further research from blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis indicated that only $450,000 of these funds were sent to a wallet associated with terrorism.
WSJ’s Correction: In its correction, WSJ now states that PIJ and Lebanese political party Hezbollah “may have exchanged” up to $12 million in cryptocurrency since 2021, a significant reduction from the initial $93 million figure. The updated article also includes additional context about Elliptic’s research.
Elliptic had previously called on WSJ to rectify its misinterpretation of the data in a statement on October 25, asserting that cryptocurrency funding for Hamas remains relatively small compared to other funding sources.
Critique of the Correction
On October 27, Elliptic expressed its satisfaction with WSJ’s acknowledgment of its errors but suggested that the newspaper could have been more specific in its corrections. Coinbase’s Chief Legal Officer, Paul Grewal, criticized the correction, particularly highlighting WSJ’s opening paragraph, which still suggested that cryptocurrency was the primary funding source behind Hamas‘ October 7 attack on Israel. Grewal remarked, “This is barely a correction.”
Call for Action
In response to the controversy, various individuals, including Nic Carter, a partner of Castle Island Ventures, are now urging United States Senator Elizabeth Warren to retract a related letter supported by over 100 U.S. lawmakers. This letter, written on October 17, cited WSJ’s misinterpreted data from Elliptic to argue that cryptocurrency poses a “national security threat” to the U.S. It urged Congress and the Biden administration to take swift action to prevent cryptocurrencies from being used to finance potential “tragedies.”
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