Hamas’ Illicit Bitcoin Network Continues to Operate Despite DOJ Seizure

The “Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades” Telegram channel run by Hamas posted a message Wednesday soliciting approximately one hundred and eighty thousand of its online followers to send bitcoin to an account registered under the organization.

“Book yourself a share in support of the resistance through the Bitcoin donation link,” the message stated.

The solicitation also offered “other ways to donate” that included a link to an email address setup by Hamas.

In Aug. 2020, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) dismantled several illicit networks run by Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) including Hamas. The statement published by the DOJ said it successfully targeted Hamas’ cryptocurrency network that was used to launder funds for the organization.

“Working together, IRS, HSI, and FBI agents tracked and seized all 150 cryptocurrency accounts that laundered funds to and from the al-Qassam Brigades’ (Hamas) accounts,” the statement said.

However, despite DOJ’s actions, Hamas has reorganized and resumed its online campaign to raise funds via cryptocurrency. Since the DOJ’s operation, Hamas has posted four notices to its online followers directing them to a website ending in “.ps” that was established after the DOJ seized the previous domain in 2020.

FDD’s Long War Journal has been tracking the use of cryptocurrency by several Palestinian militant organizations since 2020.

In Dec. 2021, Liwa al-Tawhid, a suborganization of al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, posted a message instructing its online followers to “contribute to equipping a mujahid in occupied Palestine” by donating bitcoin to an address established by the organization. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Gaza Militant Group Raises Funds via Cryptocurrency for Jihad Against Israel.]

Although there has not been further action by the DOJ since the 2020 operation, the Israeli government has taken measures to curb Hamas’ illicit online financial network.

In July 2021, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered the seizure of a “web of electronic wallets” used by Hamas to fund its operations. Later in Feb. 2022, the Israeli government targeted Hamas again when it ordered the seizure of “30 cryptocurrency wallets from 12 accounts, owned by an exchange company based in the Gaza Strip.”

Given the evidence of Hamas’ recent activities, it appears the organization is a step ahead of efforts by the DOJ, Israel and social media companies to block access or dismantle its online financial network and those affiliated with it.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah.

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