Cryptocurrency denialists have often tried to state that digital currency only has illicit purposes, even though there is more evidence of fiat being used to fund these activities. While there are definitely examples of crypto being used to fund terrorism, it’s also easy to track the source of these funds in order to hold people accountable. A perfect example comes via Hamas, the de facto ruling party of the Gaza Strip in Palestine and also an internationally recognized terrorist organization.
According to a report by the Israeli media outlet Globes from a couple of days ago, Hamas had solicited donations on social media through a Bitcoin Core (BTC) wallet address. A blockchain intelligence firm, Whitestream, kept its eye on the address and was able to see movements hitting the wallet. It was then able to track the senders to determine where the contributions originated.
From February 2-4, donations were delivered from addresses connected to Binance, as well as CoinPayments. There have also been other donations sent from addresses connected to Coinbase, Bittrex and coinMixer.oi, a crypto mixing service. One donation was traced to a crypto trader in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement to Globes, Itsik Levy, Whitestream’s co-founder, said, “In exposing illegal activity, you could say that blockchain itself does most of the work. All activity on the network is registered and documented, so it can be read at a later stage.”
This is the power of the blockchain. Nothing can be erased, shredded, hidden once recorded. While paper trails through traditional financial channels can be obscured or “accidentally” lost, the blockchain is a permanent, immutable record.
There are already many examples of how researchers are able to trace crypto wallet addresses to the wallet’s holder. This negates any attempt by fiat pundits to argue that the digital currency space cannot be monitored the same as “traditional” currencies. Everything fiat can do, crypto can do – better, faster and cheaper.
If Hamas expected to get enough money through crypto to buy a Lambo or perhaps a Mediterranean island, it’s out of luck. The Globe reports that only around $2,500 in donations had been collected in two days, despite the request for contributions via crypto having made international news.
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