The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), the military wing of Hamas, announced last week that it will close its Bitcoin donation program. The group, listed as a terrorist organization by most of the nations in the West, has in the past used digital assets as a means to raise funds.
In the notice posted on its website, IBQ said that it will no longer be accepting Bitcoin donations “to ensure the safety of donors” amid an increase in “hostile” activity against them.
On Thursday, Reuters reported that Israel has seized 189 crypto accounts at crypto exchange Binance since 2021. Documents show that most of these accounts were owned by three Palestinian firms linked to Hamas.
Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) said in a document last month that it had seized crypto worth over 500,000 shekels ($137,870) from more than 80 Binance accounts owned by Gaza-based companies Al Mutahadun For Exchange, Dubai Company For Exchange and Al Wefaq Co. For Exchange.
According to the Reuters reports, the document noted that the accounts were owned by “terrorist organizations” or used for a “severe terror crime,” but did not elaborate.
The report cited a person with direct knowledge of Al Mutahadun who denied the allegations and said that the money exchange company did not “at all” work with crypto or Hamas. “We are a money exchange company. Israeli allegations are all lies and are foundless,” they said.
The money exchange company was designated as a “terrorist organization” by Israel in May 2021.
The other two companies that allegedly own the Binance accounts, Al Wefaq and Dubai Co., have not commented on the allegations as of this writing.
According to Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem, Hamas does not have links with the three companies, and the allegations were an attempt by Israel to “justify its economic war against Gaza and its people.”
2020 Seizure by the US Government
In 2020, IBQ was among three terrorist groups that figured into what was called the largest-ever seizure of terrorist organizations’ crypto accounts. Authorities seized millions of dollars, over 300 crypto accounts, four websites, and four Facebook pages all related to IBQ, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
According to the US Department of Justice, IBQ’s started its crypto fundraising efforts at the start of 2019 when it called for Bitcoin donations on its social media page. The group then moved this call for donations to its official websites, alqassam.net, alqassam.ps, and qassam.ps.
“The al-Qassam Brigades boasted that bitcoin donations were untraceable and would be used for violent causes,” the DOJ wrote in a press release. “Their websites offered video instruction on how to anonymously make donations, in part by using unique bitcoin addresses generated for each individual donor.”
However, the donations were not actually anonymous. Agents from the IRS, HSI, and FBI were able to track down and seize 150 crypto accounts that laundered funds to and from IBQ’s accounts.
Information for this story was found via Reuters, DOJ, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.