August 14, 2020 | AtoZ Markets – The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has made its largest seizure of cryptocurrency accounts allegedly belonging and operated by some of the most feared terrorist organizations, namely al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hamas.
Per the press release shared by the Justice Department earlier today, US authorities have seized over 300 accounts containing millions of dollars worth of various cryptocurrencies allegedly belonging to terrorist groups.
DOJ seizes cryptocurrency accounts run by al-Qaeda, Hamas, & ISIS
The announcement specified that al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iran and the Levant (ISIS) utilized “sophisticated cyber-tools, including the solicitation of cryptocurrency donations from around the world” to acquire the substantial amount.
Attorney General William Barr said that the US has come to expect its enemies to utilize modern technology, social media platforms, and cryptocurrencies to “facilitate their evil and violent agendas.”
However, he reassured that the DOJ will “employ all available resources to protect the lives and safety of the American public from terrorist groups. We will prosecute their money laundering, terrorist financing, and violent, illegal activities wherever we find them.”
Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin commented:
“Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies. IRS-CI special agents in the DC cybercriminal unit work diligently to unravel these financial networks. Today’s actions demonstrate our ongoing commitment to holding malign actors accountable for their crimes.”
Apart from the cryptocurrency accounts, the US authorities have seized cash, four websites, as well as four Facebook pages related to the criminal organizations. The agency made this move after receiving judicially-authorized warrants.
Terrorists used social media to raise funds
Although many believe that Bitcoin transactions are anonymous, that’s not always the case. In fact, that is what the three terrorist organizations have come to understand.
The al-Qassam Brigades initiated several Bitcoin fundraising campaigns on separate social media platforms. They have also reassured their followers that every donation will be anonymous. Although the Bitcoin transaction appears on its blockchain, the IRS, the HSI, and the FBI were able to locate them. Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said:
“While these individuals believe they operated anonymously in the digital space, we have the skill and resolve to find, fix, and prosecute these actors under the full extent of the law.”
Ultimately, the three government agencies took control over one of the websites belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades. Thus, all funds sent to provide material support to the terrorist organization went to Bitcoin wallets controlled by the US.
Operatives from al-Qaeda managed a sophisticated Bitcoin money-laundering network using multiple Telegram channels. They also use other social media platforms to solicit digital asset donations. For example, they duped victims by purporting as charity organizations. In one such example, they offered to equip terrorists in Syria with weapons.
Think we missed something? Let us know in the comment section below.