The militant wing of Hamas, a Palestinian political outfit that rules over the Gaza Strip, has been reported to have increasingly moved towards cryptocurrencies to finance its activities.
The new inclination is reportedly making efforts to track down funding channels a bit complex and frustrating to authorities, according to researchers at blockchain intelligence startup Elliptic.
Allegations that Hamas’ military arm is shifting tactics and taking crypto financing to support its activities as noted by the intelligence firm were also published by Reuters on Friday, April 26.
The new reports have followed an earlier call by the militant group asking supporters for donations in bitcoin, noting that this would help them combat financial seclusion.
The tough financial sanctions facing Hamas, including being isolated is due to the fact that the group has been designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, including the U.S. The same view is taken up by a number of international blocs, majorly by the European Union.
Some of the countries that do not view Hamas as a terrorist group are Russia, China, and Turkey.
Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip for the last decade or so, first coming to power in 2007. The political outfit has a social service arm called “Dawah,” noted for its role in helping Palestinians in the volatile region.
Most condemnation is, however, directed towards Hamas’ other wing called “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.” This is the militant faction, whose leadership beseeched supporters early this year to contribute to fundraising drive using bitcoin.
Per Reuters, the Elliptic research team had determined that Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades had moved further and adapted their fundraising machinery, using the power of crypto’s underlying technology to make it difficult to trace its funding sources.
Over recent weeks, the group has moved from the initial single wallet address for bitcoin donations to using a unique address for every bitcoin transaction from various supporters.
According to the Elliptic report, authorities can effectively flag down a given cryptocurrency wallet address via forensic analysis, but the situation becomes complicated when dealing with so many unique addresses.
Hamas’ military group allegedly received 0.6 bitcoin between March 26 and April 16, 0.6 bitcoin through the various website-generated wallets. That amounted to about $3,100, bringing the group’s overall donations to about $7,400 since the fundraising campaign began.
Elliptic has not divulged most of the specifics relating to the research findings but did note that it had traced the transaction flow from the allegedly unique addresses to two undisclosed Asian cryptocurrency exchanges.
The firm could not, however, ascertain whether the bitcoins had been liquidated into fiat currencies.
In February, an Israeli firm that deals with blockchain research and intelligence published a report claiming that bitcoin donations were getting to Hamas. According to the firm, Hamas had received nearly $2,500 worth of bitcoins.
Meanwhile, the G20 nations are set to meet in Fukuoka, Japan in the summer to discuss crypto’s use in money laundering and terrorism financing.
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets and are very risky investments. Do your research and consult an investment professional before investing. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Never borrow money to invest in cryptocurrencies.