published : 2023-11-15

Bipartisan Lawmakers Call for Biden to Investigate Hamas' Cryptocurrency Financing

Lawmakers seek answers regarding the digital wealth owned by terror groups

A photo of House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, one of the lawmakers leading the investigation into digital wealth owned by terror groups. (Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

Top House lawmakers are joining forces to investigate the extent of digital wealth owned by terror groups like Hamas, following the group's surprise attack on Israel.

A bipartisan letter, led by House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry, Digital Asset Subcommittee Chairman French Hill, and Representative Ritchie Torres, has been sent to President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Reports suggest that Hamas-linked digital wallets received around $41 million, while Palestinian Islamic Jihad-linked digital wallets received approximately $93 million between August 2021 and June 2023.

However, it remains uncertain how much of these identified digital assets are accessible to or still in possession of Hamas.

Hamas supposedly terminated its digital asset fundraising campaign in April 2023 due to concerns over government officials identifying and prosecuting donors.

An image showing a digital wallet icon representing the funds received by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

The lawmakers are urging the White House and Treasury to utilize the open blockchain ledger to evaluate Hamas' digital asset fundraising campaign.

By doing so, Congress can gain a better understanding of the tools and capabilities available to target bad actors on the blockchain while supporting legitimate digital asset use and innovation.

Following the recent attack, Israeli authorities reportedly confiscated thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency and other digital assets from accounts involved in fundraising for Hamas.

They also froze multiple accounts, according to the Financial Times.

In addition to Hamas, the lawmakers have asked President Biden and Yellen to examine the scale of digital assets controlled by other terror groups such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.

A picture of Israeli authorities confiscating cryptocurrency and digital assets connected to Hamas fundraising. (Taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III)

The letter seeks information on the timeline of these groups' digital fundraising campaigns and the actions taken by the U.S., including asset seizure or blocking.

The lawmakers have requested a response by November 29, 2023, and if classified information is involved, they are seeking a timely classified briefing on the matter.

Cryptocurrency and other digital assets provide a means for traders to operate with relative anonymity, making it a lucrative avenue for illicit financing and evading traditional sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury recently imposed sanctions on ten entities with ties to Hamas terrorists, including a cryptocurrency platform based in Gaza, in response to the attack on Israel.

This action targeted individuals managing assets in a secret Hamas investment portfolio, a financial facilitator in Qatar connected to the Iranian regime, a prominent Hamas commander, and a Gaza-based virtual currency exchange and its operator.