US Treasury sanctions Gaza-based crypto operator allegedly tied to Hamas
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury has sanctioned a crypto operator allegedly connected to the terrorist group Hamas.
In an Oct. 18 notice, OFAC announced sanctions for Hamas operatives and financial facilitators following the organization’s attack on Israel. The entities added to OFAC’s list of specially designated nationals included a “Gaza-based virtual currency exchange and its operator” with a Bitcoin (BTC) wallet address.
According to the Treasury Department, the sanctions were aimed at “root[ing] out Hamas’s sources of revenue” following an Oct. 7 attack which resulted in the deaths of many Israelis. The exchange using digital currency, named Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company, is operated by Gaza resident Khan Yunis — Treasury alleged both the firm and Yunis were “linked to Hamas”. Ahmed M.M. Alaqad, the owner of the business, was also named in the sanctions.
“We will continue to take all steps necessary to deny Hamas terrorists the ability to raise and use funds to carry out atrocities and terrorize the people of Israel,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yelln. “That includes by imposing sanctions and coordinating with allies and partners to track, freeze, and seize any Hamas-related assets in their jurisdictions.”
Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic reported on Oct. 18 that other terrorist groups had used the money transfer company, with more than $25 million in BTC and Tether (USDT) moving through the firm since 2015. In addition to Hamas, the entities allegedly connected to the firm included an al-Qaeda affiliate and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
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Israel formally declared war against Hamas following the terrorist attack, leading to bombardments over Gaza and creating a crisis as most residents were unable to escape. At the time of publication, U.S President Joe Biden was in Israel meeting with officials, who reportedly agreed to allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza from Egypt.
The U.S. Treasury has often used sanctions as a tool to weaken financial support for entities alleged to have been involved in terrorism or other illicit activities. On Oct. 3, Treasury announced sanctions against crypto wallets tied to China-based chemical manufacturers in parallel with an indictment from the Justice Department over the production of the drug fentanyl.
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