Tester Calls on Administration to Combat Crypto-Financed Terrorism Following Reports of Hamas Using Crypto to Fund Operations
Lawmakers: “We urge you to swiftly and categorically act to meaningfully curtail illicit crypto activity and protect our national security and that of our allies”
U.S. Senator Jon Tester joined a bipartisan letter to the Biden Administration raising concerns about reports that in the months leading up to their brutal October 7th terrorist attack on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) raised millions of dollars via crypto, evading U.S. sanctions to fund their operations. Tester and the bipartisan group of lawmakers are asking the BidenAdministration to provide information about how it plans to prevent crypto-financed terrorism.
“Between August 2021 and this past June, [Hamas and PIJ] raised over $130 million in crypto, and moved millions among each other, ‘with PIJ sending over $12 million in crypto to Hezbollah since 2023.’ As the Wall Street Journal reports, ‘[r]esearchers who study Hamas’s financing said crypto remains one of a number of tools the group uses to raise funds.’ Given the clear and present danger posed by the financing of these and other militant organizations, we ask the Administration to provide additional details on its plan to prevent the use of crypto for the financing of terrorism,” wrote Tester and the lawmakers.
The lawmakers noted in their letter that both the Israeli and U.S. governments have warned of the threat that crypto poses in the fight against terrorism, and Israel previously seized crypto assets from terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah. Experts believe that only a small percentage of the overall crypto funds flowing through Hamas and PIJ have been captured.
“That the deadly attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians comes as the group has become ‘one of the most sophisticated crypto users in the terror-finance domain’ clarifies the national security threat crypto poses to the U.S., and our allies. Congress and this Administration must take strong action to thoroughly address crypto illicit finance risks before it can be used to finance another tragedy. As Congress considers legislative proposals designed to mitigate crypto money laundering and illicit finance risks, we urge you to swiftly and categorically act to meaningfully curtail illicit crypto activity and protect our national security and that of our allies,” concluded Tester and the lawmakers.
Tester and the bipartisan group of lawmakers are asking a set of questions about Treasury and the Biden administration’s plans to address the serious national security threats posed by crypto’s use to finance terrorism by October 31, 2023.
Immediately after Hamas launched terrorist attacks against Israel, Tester issued a statement strongly condemning the attacks and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.
Last week, Tester became one of the first U.S. Senators to call on the Biden Administration to immediately freeze the $6 billion in Iranian assets and explore other financial tools at our disposal. Tester then sent a bipartisan letter calling on the Biden Administration to make it the official policy of the United States to freeze the $6 billion in Iranian assets. Additionally, Tester has sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden calling on the Administration to do everything in its power to secure the safe release of American hostages kidnapped by Hamas.
You can read Tester’s bipartisan letter HERE.