US ‘foils’ activist cryptocurrency fundraiser

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Reuters

Legend
Despite its territorial losses, IS used cryptocurrencies to raise funds


The US government says it has thwarted attempts by militant groups to raise funds using digital currency or cryptocurrency.

The campaigns involved the military wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam brigades, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group.

U.S. officials said Thursday that $ 2 million worth of cryptocurrency had been recovered.

Hundreds of cryptocurrency accounts, four websites and four Facebook accounts were also seized, the Justice Department said in a statement.

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“These actions represent the largest government seizure of cryptocurrency ever in the context of terrorism,” the ministry said.

How did the groups receive the payments?

The al-Qassam Brigades have used social media and their official websites to solicit donations of bitcoin, according to the Justice Department.

He said government agents took over a website to hijack payments from the group, which is the armed wing of the militant Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas. Search warrants have been issued against people based in the United States who have donated.

Syria-based al Qaeda militants, meanwhile, have solicited donations to purchase weapons through the Telegram messaging app.

The Justice Department said ISIS used a website and Facebook pages to sell fake Covid-19 personal protective equipment in order to raise money.

“Nothing was hidden,” an unnamed US official told Reuters news agency, adding that militant groups “believed they were protected” by encryption in the apps they used.

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