The world is a strange place in which unthinkable scenarios often take place. The fight against terrorism is taken very seriously in the planet and, more specifically, in the United States, so it seems far-fetched that a terrorist organization may be using an American-based digital currency exchange as a mean to raise funds.
However, the latest reports coming from the United States seem to link Hamas, a Palestinian organization known for its roots with military and political affairs, to the Coinbase crypto exchange in order to raise funds for its related activities. The US government has deemed Hamas as a terrorist group.
A blockchain analytics company based in Israel, which goes by the name of Whitestream, was the primary agent behind an investigation that resulted in various Bitcoin wallet addresses referred to on the terrorist group’s social media outlets and networks in public attempts to raise money via donations online.
Donating to Fund the “Resistance”
Hamas has made no secret about its endeavors, as it asks people to contribute to supporting what they call the “resistance.” In fact, a recent petition for BTC donations was issued last week, precisely on January 31st, via a Telegram channel administrated by one of Hamas’ spokesmen, Abu Obeida.
Israeli publication Globes informed that the wallets included an account in Coinbase, perhaps America’s most famous cryptocurrency exchange. The brokerage company declined to provide comments on the matter, but Whitestream is quoted by a famous specialized crypto news site as saying that the account in question kept receiving transactions two days after the issue was identified and leaked to the media.
Itsik Levy, the CEO of Whitestream, is quoted as saying that “based on shared inputs, we can tell that Hamas blockchain transactions were signed by addresses that are operating on Coinbase company wallets.”
Whitestream had previously spotted two other Bitcoin addresses that received donations for Hamas. If the most recent account is added to those two, the Palestinian organization has raised less than $4,000 worth of Bitcoin, a very modest sum.
An “Active” Campaign
“Hamas is struggling with getting funds from the Israeli government and Qatar. We’ve heard of other Islamic extremist organizations doing the same thing over the past few years…now Hamas tries the same thing. It’s still an active campaign. It just started,” according to Levy.
Whether or not we are talking about financing for Hamas’ terrorist activities through the Coinbase Bitcoin addresses remains to be seen, the American exchange doesn’t seem to be the only one of its kind related with the week’s activity.
According to Whitestream, the identified Coinbase account that is purportedly linked to Hamas could be sending BTC to Binance and CoinPayments accounts. The two platforms have not commented on the matter, either.
A report published last year by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance stated that jihadists’ use of crypto assets is a “fringe” activity, and according to Levy, “only 2%” of the bitcoin transactions analyzed by Whitestream were actually linked to “terrorist or criminal activity.”
By Andres Chavez