Elliptic said there is “no evidence” to support the Wall Street Journal’s claim that Hamas raised $130 million in crypto.
On October 10, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed that Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, “raised millions in crypto” to fund the October 7 attack on Israel.
A week later, more than 100 US lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, wrote to the White House expressing “grave concern” over the group’s use of crypto, writing, “Indeed, between August 2021 and this past June, the two groups raised over $130 million in crypto, and moved millions among each other.”
Blockchain analysis firm Elliptic however has set the record straight, affirming there is “no evidence” to suggest such funds have been raised through cryptocurrency.
The WSJ “misinterpreted” key blockchain data
The report outlines that since October 7, the most prominent crypto fundraising campaign has been operated by Gaza Now, a “pro-Hamas” news organisation.
Only $21,000 in crypto has been donated to the organisation in the past three weeks, and most of this has been frozen. Tether went as far as blocking $9,000 in stablecoin donations.
Elliptic claims that the WSJ has misinterpreted key data surrounding the alleged $130 million. “We have spoken to representatives of the lead signatory, Senator Warren, as well as the authors of the Wall Street Journal article, to clarify this,” the report states.
Earlier this year, Israeli officials issued a seizure order for crypto wallets linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist organisation active in the Gaza Strip. Elliptic analysis of these wallets shows they received transactions totalling just over $93 million between 2020 and 2023. It is likely however that some of these wallets belonged to “small service providers”, such as brokers, that were used by the PIJ.
“In no way does this mean that PIJ had “raised” all of these funds or that they even all belonged to PIJ,” the report stated. “It is not known what proportion of the funds received by those wallets are directly attributable to PIJ or other terrorist groups.”
It added: “Over the past two weeks, politicians and journalists have portrayed public crypto fundraising as a significant source of funds for Hamas and other terrorist groups, but the data simply does not support this. No public crypto fundraising campaign by a terrorist group has received significant levels of donations, relative to other funding sources.”
Crypto is a “weak” tool for terror financing
Throughout 2019 until 2023, Hamas experimented with soliciting Bitcoin donations.
However, in April 2023, it stopped raising funds via crypto due to “concern about the safety of donors and to spare them any harm”.
Elliptic stated that this “illustrates the weakness” of using crypto to fund terrorism.
“The transparency of the blockchain allows illicit funds to be traced, and in some cases linked to real-world identities,” it wrote.
The report added: “In addition, users of cryptocurrencies typically make use of centralized services such as exchanges or stablecoins. These services respond to law enforcement requests to freeze funds with links to illicit activity, or do this proactively themselves based on insights from blockchain analytics.”
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