A bipartisan group of lawmakers is urgently calling upon the Biden administration to take swift action against the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by Hamas and its associated entities.
In a letter sent on Tuesday to both the US Treasury Department and the White House, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Roger Marshall, and Representative Sean Casten, 105 lawmakers conveyed their “serious concerns.”
In the letter, they argued that Hamas and a related organization were utilizing digital assets to finance their activities and to circumvent US sanctions.
“Congress and this administration must take strong action to thoroughly address crypto illicit finance risks before it can be used to finance another tragedy,” the letter said.
The legislators subsequently called on the Biden administration to supply approximations concerning the worth of cryptocurrency assets within wallets controlled by Hamas, the extent to which Hamas relies on cryptocurrency to finance its activities, and information about those aiding in the transfer of cryptocurrency to and from Hamas.
This call comes after Israeli police said in an October 10 statement that it had frozen several crypto accounts that were used to solicit donations for Hamas. Notably, back in May, Reuters reported that Israel had seized around 190 crypto accounts at crypto exchange Binance since 2021, including dozens it said were owned by Palestinian firms connected to Hamas.
At the time, Binance said the exchange had been “working closely with international counter-terrorism authorities” on the seizures.
On Wednesday this week, the US Treasury Department placed sanctions on Gaza-based exchange, Buy Cash, due to its connections with Hamas. As per a statement by the agency, the sanctions were aimed at blocking Hamas’s access to funds from various Arab regions and other sources.
Hamas has allegedly received over $7.3 million in cryptocurrency donations including over $40,000 in Dogecoin, as per a recent report by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, further highlighting the challenges associated with tracking and blocking such transactions.
That said, from its inception, the cryptocurrency community has touted digital assets as vehicles for anonymous transactions, creating an environment conducive to fraud, money laundering, and unregistered coin offerings. Consequently, governments worldwide have been ramping up their efforts to combat the misuse of cryptocurrencies for financing terrorism, all while contemplating regulatory frameworks to govern the cryptocurrency industry.
Back in July, OFAC sanctioned key operatives linked to ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Maldives, who were using cryptocurrencies to obfuscate their financial operations.