According to reporting from the Jerusalem Post, Hamas has recently engineered a way to send money out of Gaza with help from Iran. A site called “cash4ps” reportedly allowed the terror group to both send and receive money.
Authorities found that the site was tied to Bitcoin wallet address 1LaNXgq2ctDEa4fTha6PTo8sucqzieQctq, a known wallet for Hamas and affiliated terror groups.
While it’s virtually impossible to stop someone from sending or receiving Bitcoin, it’s possible to police the activities of the coin once it leaves a wallet. For example, if it goes to an exchange, authorities can focus on that exchange.
Often enough, exchanges voluntarily try to comply with law enforcement investigations in an effort to keep heat off the other activities and users of the exchange.
Reportedly, Hamas has managed to move about $24 million in Bitcoin through its “cash4ps” site.
While that’s no small chunk of change, it’s probably nothing compared to what the group raises and uses in cash. Cash is still king among criminals and terrorists around the world, including Hamas.
Both Hamas and Iran, who are actually leading the way in blockchain development, having creating a cryptocurrency for foreign settlements with nearby countries, prefer cash for their operations.
Hamas reportedly receives support from Iran.
Iran is said to be using cash given to it under the Obama administration to fund its operations against the US. At least $150 billion, which goes a long way on the black market.
Iran has worked tirelessly to achieve nuclear independence. It is even said to have bought technology from North Korea, whose capabilities are so far limited. The question of rogue states becoming nuclear is one of great importance in places like the White House, where President Trump has vowed that Iran will never be “allowed” to have a nuke while he is president.
According to the Jerusalem Post reporting, some Hamas brigades who used to receive support from Iran have run low on such funding. As a result, they needed to increase their Bitcoin funding efforts.
After untangling a web of financial layers, including seemingly legitimate websites and portals, Israeli authorities finally uncovered a link to a banned bank, the Islamic National Bank, which was designated as a problem in 2010 by the US government.
The question that arises, of course, is whether this is a plus or minus for Bitcoin.
After all, the whole point of Bitcoin is that anyone can use it for any purpose. Bitcoin grants the freedom to be your own bank. Therefore, if groups like Hamas are able to use it to move millions of dollars with little friction, perhaps the use case for the privacy and power of the cryptocurrency is proven.
Nevertheless, it’s possible for governments to trace both Bitcoin and bank transactions. That raises the question: why do groups like Hamas not simply use things like Monero instead?
Having a lot of BTC – reportedly over 3,000, in the case of the Hamas brigades in question – can get you cash money anywhere. It wouldn’t matter where the crypto came from, making it a wise decision. That’s the nature of fungibility.
In the future, we may reach a paradigm where both governments and terrrorists are using cryptocurrency as their preferred way to move value.