Reportedly, Israeli authorities have seized around 190 cryptocurrency accounts at Binance since 2021. Some of these accounts were allegedly tied to the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic State. Binance has claimed that Reuters, the media outlet that broke the news, “is deliberately leaving out critical facts to fit their narrative” and stated that anti-money laundering and preventing terrorist activities remain a priority.
The Reuters/Binance Conflict
According to Reuters, all the cryptocurrency accounts seized belonged to three Palestinian currency exchange firms designated by Israel as “terrorist organizations”. Reuters claimed that two of the total addresses were linked to Islamic State, while a dozen others were owned by companies controlled by Hamas. Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) released a document that showed the accounts belonged to a 28-year-old Palestinian named Osama Abuobayada.
Hamas and Islamic State have been responsible for numerous terrorist incidents. The USA, the European Union, and others have ranked these organizations as some of the deadliest terrorist entities in the world.
Reuters has criticized Binance in the past for not adhering to anti-money laundering procedures, going so far as to claim the company has processed more than $10 billion in payments for criminals since 2017. Binance responded quickly to these allegations, stating that a certain reporter from the multimedia news provider has left out important facts to vilify Binance. The company assured that anti-money laundering policies and tackling cryptocurrency-based financing of terrorism are top priorities for them. Binance added it has collaborated with law enforcement agencies on the seizures and freezes accounts whenever necessary.
“The bottom line is that we are not aware of any exchange – or other financial institution for that matter – that does more today to keep bad actors off their platform than Binance. Our policies and processes comply with AMLD5/6 anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing requirements, and we have a robust compliance program that incorporates sophisticated anti-money laundering and global sanctions principles and tools to detect and address suspicious activity. We even have specialists on our team who have focused their entire careers on counter-terrorism.”
Binance also highlighted blockchain technology’s potential to be one of the most potent tools for law enforcement’s anti-money laundering efforts due to its immutable, public nature.
Hamas Refuses Bitcoin Donations
As CryptoPotato reported, the armed wing of Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades, plans to stop accepting BTC donations to protect its contributors. Economists believe that Israel’s agencies could track these transactions and see who has a connection to the Palestinian organization. Another possibility is that Hamas has found more advanced options to finance its operations or has shifted back to traditional finance methods.
In 2020, US authorities stopped Hamas, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State’s efforts to raise funds through digital currencies and seized $2 million in crypto. Since most Muslim countries support Hamas in its war against Israel, the Palestinian entity has obtained most of its BTC donations from these countries.