According to blockchain forensic firm Elliptic, there is no evidence to support the claim that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is receiving significant amounts of cryptocurrency donations to fund its attacks against Israel. In a statement released on October 25th, Elliptic stated that the amounts raised remain minimal, contradicting recent articles and letters written by The Wall Street Journal and United States lawmakers.
The misinterpretation of data led to the belief that Hamas had raised over $130 million in cryptocurrency between August 2021 and June 2023. However, Elliptic reached out to The Wall Street Journal to correct this statement, after which the newspaper revised the amount to “as much as $93 million” in an update on October 10th. This inaccurate information was also referenced in a letter written by Elizabeth Warren and over 100 other U.S. lawmakers to the White House and U.S. Department of the Treasury on October 17th.
Elliptic specifically mentioned a Hamas cryptocurrency fundraising campaign operated by Gaza Now, a pro-Hamas news outlet, which only managed to raise $21,000 since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th. Out of the raised amount, $9,000 was frozen by stablecoin issuer Tether, and another $2,000 was frozen after being sent to a cryptocurrency exchange, presumably in an attempt to cash out.
Another blockchain forensics firm, Chainalysis, also addressed misconceptions surrounding the use of cryptocurrency for terrorism financing. In a blog post published on October 18th, Chainalysis highlighted a particular wallet that reportedly received $82 million over a period of 7 and a half months. However, Chainalysis explained that only $450,000 of that amount was transferred to a known terror-affiliated wallet.
Furthermore, Elliptic pointed out that Hamas had suspended cryptocurrency fundraising conducted through Bitcoin (BTC) in April 2023 due to concerns about the safety of donors. Additionally, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing has been issuing seizure orders for cryptocurrency wallets tied to Hamas and working with exchanges to freeze accounts used by the group.
These events suggest that cryptocurrency is not an ideal method for facilitating terrorism fundraising, according to Elliptic. The transparency of the blockchain allows illicit funds to be traced and, in some cases, linked to real-world identities.
It is important to note that cryptocurrency-related crime and its potential use for illicit activities have been topics of concern for regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies worldwide. However, it is crucial to rely on accurate data and avoid misinterpretations when making claims about the use of cryptocurrency for nefarious purposes.