The United States Treasury on Wednesday issued sanctions on several individuals and entities that are said to be financially supporting Hamas’ terrorist atrocities against Israel.
The sanctions, announced by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, following President Biden’s Israel visit to show support for the Netanyahu government, are aimed at the Islamist militant organization’s financial networks in Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Algeria, and Qatar.
US Treasury Sanctions Gaza-Based Crypto Exchange With Ties to Hamas
The targets for the Treaury sanctions are individuals who manage an investment portfolio for the group, a Qatari financial facilitator with close ties to Iran, a Hamas commander, and a Gaza-based cryptocurrency exchange.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US is taking “swift and decisive action” against financiers and facilitators of Hamas following its “brutal and unconscionable” massacre of Israeli civilians. She lauded the US government’s history of successfully disrupting terror financing in an email statement.
Yellen also added that the Treasury Department will continue to take “all steps necessary” to deny Hamas the ability to raise and use funds to carry out its atrocities against Israel.
On October 7, Hamas and its affiliates, including the Al-Qassam Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), conducted a series of attacks in Israel that killed over 1,000 civilians and hundreds more taken as hostages. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory bombings by Israel.
Among the sanctioned entities was a Gaza-based crypto business called the Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company. The Treasury claims the firm to have had a long history of providing money transfer and cryptocurrency exchange services for Palestinian terrorist groups in Bitcoin (BTC) and dollar-pegged stablecoins.
‘Buy Cash’ Wallets Received More than $25 Million in Bitcoin and USDT Since 2015
In 2021, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terrorist Financing seized a wallet tied to Buy Cash in a sting operation targeting addresses that sent or received crypto from Hamas. The Treasury is accusing the company of having assisted, sponsored, or provided “financial, material, or technological” support for Hamas.
Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic reported that while the US government only sanctioned one wallet address associated with the exchange, which belonged to its owner Ahmed Alaqad, it is aware of multiple wallets used by Buy Cash to transfer funds on other blockchains.
Elliptic’s report shows that since 2015, addresses controlled by Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company have received cryptocurrencies, including BTC and USDT, worth over $25 million.
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Lawmakers Concerned Over Hamas’ Use of Cryptocurrencies to Evade US Sanctions
On Tuesday, 105 US lawmakers sent a letter to the Treasury and the White House expressing concerns over Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s use of digital currencies to fund their operations and as a way to evade US-issued sanctions.
The Treasury Department highlighted that Hamas mainly relies on small-denomination dollar donations and cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, Elliptic noted that the organization’s use of crypto as an alternative funding source is “relatively small” and has been proven to be vulnerable to detection and disruption and many Lawmakers saying Hamas Is Using Cryptocurrencies for war.
Speaking to CoinDesk TV, former CIA analyst and current head of anti-money laundering and cyber risk policy at the Crypto Council of Innovation, Yaya Fanusie said the US government’s action to go after any terrorist use of crypto is “precise and targeted”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the sanctions are meant for Hamas terrorists and their support group, “not Palestinians”. He held the terrorist group responsible for the carnage inflicted on Israelis and ordered the immediate release of all hostages held in its custody.
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