"Millions of Dollars" of Bitcoin allegedly linked to Al Qaeda, ISIS and Hamas seized

"Millions of Dollars" of Bitcoin allegedly linked to Al Qaeda, ISIS and Hamas seized - bitcoin bitfinex 1024x539On Thursday, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the "largest cryptocurrency seizure linked to terrorist organizations", including "millions of dollars" and 300 crypto accounts.

Fake donation campaigns on Telegram and other social media

In a press release on Thursday, the DOJ announced that it had dismantled "three cyber-enabled terrorist financing campaigns" involving al-Qaeda, Hamas and ISIS.

According to filed legal documents, the DOJ is seeking to seize bitcoin from 155 addresses it claims were used by Al Qaeda to finance terrorism, and arrest two people allegedly involved in facilitating cryptocurrency transfers for Hamas.

In a complaint reporting the confiscation of financial accounts, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Cyber-Crimes Section of the Internal Revenue Service claim that Al Qaeda has created a sophisticated money laundering operation through a network of Telegram channels, which have been used to solicit donations of bitcoins intended to finance acts of terrorism.

"Al-Qaeda and other affiliated terrorist groups have operated a BTC money laundering network using Telegram channels and other social media platforms to solicit BTC donations to further their terrorist goals," the complaint read.

"As described below, al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups operate a number of Telegram channels and pretend to act as charities when, in reality, they request funds for mujahadeen."

The complaint begins with donations sent to a Telegram group called "Tawheed & Jihad Media", which began requesting bitcoin donations in April 2019. Overall, investigators found 155 different crypto addresses that they claim to be linked to Al Qaeda and various other organizations that allegedly support the terrorist group.

"The defendant property is subject to confiscation in the United States ... as the assets of a foreign terrorist organization engaged in the planning or perpetration of any federal terrorist crime," the complaint read.

BTC's recycling machine active until July 2020

A separate affidavit in support of an arrest warrant detailed how Mehmet Akti and Hüsamettı̇n Karataş allegedly stored and transferred cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, ether, XRP and EOS on behalf of al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas.

Investigators used Chainalysis and Excygent to track bitcoin transfers from these organizations over the past 18 months. In an official post, Chainalysis said authorities seized more than $ 1 million from terrorist campaigns.

The post goes on to describe how the company was able to track the funds, noting that many of the addresses "are hosted on various exchanges." According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Telegram channels continued to be active in the buy bitcoin for terrorist groups until July 2020.