According to The New York Times, Palestinian militant group Hamas has been raising money using Bitcoin. Hamas’s website, called Qassam Brigades, gives every visitor to the site a different Bitcoin address where the visitor can send donations via bitcoin. This method makes it extremely difficult to track by law enforcement.
Although the money Hamas is making from the bitcoin campaigns seems to be limited, terrorist attacks don’t require much money.
“You are going to see more of this,” said Yaya Fanusie, a former analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency. “This is going to be a part of the terrorist financing mix, and it is something that people should pay attention to.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also discussed the problem and called for better monitoring on that front.
“We are dedicating a lot of resources very specifically to this space,” Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. “It is still relatively new to them, but I’m confident that we’re going to see more of it in the future.”
Cryptocurrencies allow the terrorist group to make and transfer money and no central authority can shut down or freeze accounts. More, to make a bitcoin address, no name or personal information need be provided.
Before bitcoin, Hamas used donations from foreign governments, such as Qatar. Recently, though, Hamas has been suffering from financial cuts imposed by the Palestinian Authority.
“They seem to be reacting to all the economic sanctions by saying, ‘We are going to try using Bitcoin,’” said Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.
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