Hamas looks to boost its Bitcoin funding in wake of Iran crisis
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As pressure from the international community mounts on Iran, Palestinian terror-group Hamas is pushing for more anonymous donations in Bitcoin through a website called “cash4ps”, according to the Jerusalem Post.
An International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) report found that Hamas, which heavily relies on the Iranian regime for funding, has now turned to Bitcoin donations to make up for any funding shortfalls.
The ICT report states that the cash4ps website has been established expressly to allow Hamas to send and receive money from Gaza while providing some anonymity to donors.
Investigators noted an “irregular increase in the scope of activity” by the Hamas associated address, which has over 4,500 transactions to date totalling over $23 million in BTC.
The Bitcoin Abuse Database has also identified the wallet as a Hamas fundraising account, and it’s believed that the Islamic National Bank has been associated with funds sent to the wallet.
The funds have been used to finance paramilitary brigades to target Israeli interests as part of the “Popular Resistance Committees” operating under the Hamas banner.
Unfortunately, the use of cryptocurrency for terrorist financing is nothing new.
In April 2019, Coin Rivet reported that a Syrian terror group was using Bitcoin as a means of exchange among its followers, as the cryptocurrency provided a level of anonymity and ease of use.
The Syrian terror group even went so far as to promote Bitcoin in its weekly magazine, citing its lack of international restrictions as a benefit of its use.
However, reports have also found that terrorists are far more likely to use cash rather than cryptocurrency to fund their activities, as to a large degree physical cash flows are even harder to trace than movements of cryptocurrency.
Earlier this month, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced it would be assuming the role of the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing supervisor for illicit cryptocurrency activities in the UK.
The FCA will focus on private sector firms to ensure money doesn’t reach the hands of terrorists via cryptocurrency transactions.
Other nations have also warned that cryptocurrencies can be used for terrorist financing. Australian lawmaker Peter Dutton claimed in November 2019 that terrorists are obfuscating their activities through cryptocurrency, citing North Korea as a particularly pressing threat.
Nevertheless, there’s some good news – a CIA analyst found that members of terrorist groups are just as gullible to crypto scams as the average user, with many being caught out by elaborate schemes which pose as extremist groups to steal funds from their supporters.