US Announces Disruption of 3 Terror Groups’ Cyber Financing Campaigns

By Masood Farivar | VOA News |

Masked Hamas militants wave green flags during a protest in Gaza City, Feb. 14, 2020. Arabic on the headband reads: “No God but Allah and Muhammed is his messenger, al-Qassam Brigades.” AP

WASHINGTON – U.S. authorities have seized millions of dollars and hundreds of virtual currency accounts used to funnel money to al-Qaida, Islamic State (IS) and Hamas’s military wing, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

The department said the seizure of the more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts linked to the three groups was the largest of its kind and amounts to a disruption of their ever-changing fundraising methods.

“It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will employ all available resources to protect the lives and safety of the American public from terrorist groups.”

The seized accounts belonged to the three terror groups, their unidentified donors and “money transmitters” operating on virtual currency exchanges around the world, according to court documents.  More than 150 of the accounts were used in fundraising carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.

Two Turkish money transmitters — Mehmet Akti and Husamettin Karataş — were charged with helping Hamas “cash out” the bitcoin donations while operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.  Akti served hundreds of customers, including six who lived in the U.S. or used U.S. based accounts, according to court documents.

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