The United States DOJ [Department of Justice] has announced the “biggest ever seizure of terrorist organizations’ cryptocurrency accounts” earlier on Thursday, including “millions of dollars” as well as over 300 crypto related accounts.
Within the official press-release published, the DOJ revealed that it had investigated and dismantled “three terrorist financing cyber-enabled campaigns” involving al-Qaeda, Hamas as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS].
Legal documents filed recently on Thursday reveal that the DOJ is trying to seize bitcoin from 155 addresses it alleges were employed by Al Qaeda to fund terrorism and arrest two individuals allegedly involved facilitating cryptocurrency transfers for Hamas.
Within the complaint for forfeiture, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Internal Revenue Service cyber-crimes unit claim that Al Qaeda created a classy money-laundering operation via a network of Telegram channels, that they wont to solicit bitcoin donations intended to fund acts of terror.
“Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups are operating a Bitcoin money laundering network using Telegram channels and other social media platforms to solicit Bitcoin [BTC] donations to further fulfil their terrorist goals,” the complaint adds. “As described below, al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups operate variety of Telegram channels and purport to act as charities when, in fact, they’re soliciting funds for the mujahadeen.”
The complaint starts with donations sent to a Telegram group referred “Tawheed & Jihad Media,” that began soliciting bitcoin donations earlier in the month of April last year,
Moreover, the investigators found 155 different cryptocurrency addresses they claim are tied to Al Qaeda and various other organizations allegedly supporting the terrorist organization .
Funds were transferred to gift card exchanges and other platforms, consistent with the filing.
“The Defendant Properties are subject to forfeiture to the U.S.… as assets of a foreign terrorist group engaged in planning or perpetrating any federal crime of terrorism,” the complaint added.
A separate affidavit in support of an bench warrant detailed how Mehmet Akti and Hüsamettı̇n Karataş allegedly stored and transferred crypto assets, including Bitcoin [BTC], Ethereum [ETH], Ripple [XRP] and EOS on behalf of al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing.
The affidavit alleges the 2 violated money services business regulations and therefore the Bank Secrecy Act.
Investigators used Chainalysis and Excygent to trace bitcoin transfers from these organizations over the past 18 months.
Within an official web-blog post, Chainalysis said authorities have seized over $1 Mln from terror campaigns. The blog post went on to explain how the corporate tracked the funds, noting that several of the addresses “are hosted at various exchanges.”
In line with the Middle East Media Research Institute, Telegram groups were soliciting bitcoin for terrorist groups as recently in July this year.