In a letter to the White House sent on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers warned that Hamas has funded its attack on Israel through crypto — and that the Biden administration must swiftly take action to curb its effectiveness.
Led by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Roger Marshall, and Representative Sean Caster, over 100 lawmakers signed a document condemning Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in their use of crypto to fund terrorist acts and evade US sanctions. The letter, sent to the US Treasury Department and the White House, described “grave concern” about Hamas’ operations — and requested that Biden’s administration share figures on the extent of its dependence on crypto.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers want to know how much crypto remains in Hamas-controlled wallets, how much the militant group relies on crypto to fund operations, and information about the entities and individuals facilitating its crypto use.
“Congress and this administration must take strong action to thoroughly address crypto illicit finance risks before it can be used to finance another tragedy,” the letter said.
Hamas has raised at least $44M in crypto in past two years
The letter comes swiftly on the heels of Israeli police announcing another seizure of crypto wallets belonging to Hamas. International sanctions have forced it to rely on digital assets for years to fund its operations. Recent reports indicate that the militant group has raised $41 million in cryptocurrency between August 2021 and June 2023, according to crypto analytics firm BitOK. Additionally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is estimated to have received $93 million in funding within the same time frame.
Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown has already vowed to look into crypto’s role in the Israel-Hamas war. However, the letter also comes amid a growing rally by Senator Warren to pass a bill that would tighten anti-money laundering rules for crypto in the US — a bill facing pushback from crypto firms. Warren’s recent attempts to align crypto legislation with Hamas have ignited the bill’s potential.
“The danger of crypto-financed terrorism is real and should be an urgent priority for Congress,” Warren said in an interview (via Politico). “There’s a growing bipartisan coalition of senators who are committed to passing this bill and fighting back against terrorism worldwide by choking off the financing.”
President Biden has travelled to Israel where he is set to meet with prime minister Netanyahu later today. A scheduled summit in Jordan with Palestinian and Egyptian leaders has been cancelled after a hospital in Gaza was struck by missiles, killing at least 500. Israel has been accused by Hamas of being behind the attack — but officials deny responsibility and instead say that the missile was misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihadists in Gaza.