Palestinian Fundamentalist Group Hamas Receives Funding via Bitcoin
In a particularly interesting case study for the consequence of Bitcoin’s global impact, the internationally recognized terrorist group Hamas has announced that it will accept bitcoin to fund itself.
The de facto ruling party of the Gaza Strip since the reconciliation agreement with rival group Fatah, Hamas holds a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council and attempts to act as a government. As Palestine is not internationally recognized as a country, Hamas’ militant arm frequently clashes with Israeli forces.
Just recently, spokesmen for the group made an appeal on Telegram, requesting for bitcoin and publishing a Coinbase address.
“The Zionist enemy is fighting the resistance by trying to cut its support by all means,” the request claims, asking “all supporters of the resistance and of our just cause to support it through Bitcoin, through means that we will announce soon.”
Soon after this announcement, Israeli crypto startup Whitestream reportedly began detecting transfers of bitcoin to this wallet address. It is uncertain whether or not Coinbase will block the account associated with the transfers, lest it fall afoul of international anti-terror laws.
In late January 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu blocked a multimillion dollar aid package to the Gaza Strip, under the pretext that this money would be used “to pay salaries of Hamas civil servants.” In light of this development, it seems as if Hamas is looking toward more untraceable funding mechanisms.
The cryptocurrency space is, by this point, no stranger to use cases that involve illicit activity. The Silk Road, for example, made huge steps toward making bitcoin a household name through the widespread smuggling of illegal drugs. Given the borderless and flexible online utility of cryptocurrencies, it makes sense that terrorists and militants are starting to consider the potential of an untraceable currency to fund operations, a trend that appears to be growing.
Governments have long been wary of cryptocurrency terrorist funding, and a handful of bills have circulated through the U.S. Congress that would strive to police and stanch this activity.