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The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (IDC-ICT) recently released a detailed report, highlighting the role of a Bitcoin address in financing the terrorist group Hamas.
The terrorist group has a long-standing financial relationship with Iran. However, it seems the group is low on Iranian funds, and as such it is turning to crypto as its new source of funding. Via the Bitcoin address, the group is able to solicit help from supporters and those who believe in the radical movement.
During the investigation, the ICT discovered a Bitcoin address – (1LaNXgq2ctDEa4fTha6PTo8sucqzieQctq) linked to Hamas. A thorough look at the Bitcoin address showed that it has had an “irregular increase in the scope of activity” in the past four years. So far, the ICT has discovered a total of 4,500 Bitcoin transactions linked to the address.
Furthermore, the ICT was able to identify the financial website that aids these cryptocurrency transactions and the bank the ‘supposed exchange’ is linked to.
From the report, the Bitcoin address served as a legit financial website dubbed Cash4ps. The said company was also found registered with a banned bank by the name Islamic National Bank.
Despite being connected to terrorism about a decade ago by the United States, it seems the bank is yet operating in the shadows, helping anyone who needs to stock dirty cash. And Hamas clearly needs a whole lot of that for its nefarious operations.
Both the bank and the supposed financial website was also traced back to Hamas. With overwhelming evidence, it is safe to conclude that this is a major financial structure used by the terrorist group to funds its illegal activities.
The Dark Side of Crypto
Prior to this discovery, there have been a number of Bitcoin addresses found linked to the Palestinian terrorist group. Typically, these crypto wallets are used as a medium to solicit funds from fanatic believers and other supporters. The funds are then used for the smooth-running of the terrorist group.
This brings to light one of the major drawbacks of cryptocurrencies. While being privacy-oriented is a good quality, time and time again activities like this show that this seemingly good quality can totally be exploited for illegal and immoral activities.
To curb this threat, an international body of regulators would have to open close scrutiny on virtual currencies. Now, this removes the decentralization which this form of currency swears it offers. Could there be another way out?