Lawmakers press Biden, Yellen for detailed report on crypto activity linked to Hamas
Several U.S. lawmakers have approached the Biden administration, requesting an investigation into the alleged use of cryptocurrency by terrorist groups. This request came in the form of a letter dated Nov. 15.
The letter refers to earlier reports alleging that crypto wallets linked to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have received upwards of $41 million and $93 million, respectively. However, it also acknowledges the existence of “conflicting reports” from blockchain analytics firms that challenge these numbers.
The estimates originated on Oct. 10 in a Wall Street Journal article that cited statistics from two blockchain analytics firms. One primary source, Elliptic, later said that the $93 million estimate actually applied to a crypto exchange serving many customers rather than a single terrorist group. The $41 million amount originated with a separate analytics firm called BitOK; the company has seemingly not reassessed that estimate.
Now, in their current letter, lawmakers are asking the U.S. government to disclose the number of digital wallets linked to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that it has identified as well as the cryptocurrency balance of those wallets. Furthermore, the letter asks whether the U.S. government has blocked or seized any of those cryptocurrency assets or any non-crypto assets and asks for other related details.
Furthermore, the letter points out that the U.S. government has seized substantial amounts of illicit funds, suggesting a need for transparency about these procedures. It asks when those funds might be forfeited, to whom they might be distributed, and whether any funds seized from terrorist organizations could be distributed to Israel in order to offset the cost of other government spending packages.
Letter signed by over 50 lawmakers
The letter is signed by more than 50 lawmakers. Signatures from Republican lawmakers include those from Majority Whip Tom Emmer, Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services Patrick McHenry, and Congressman French Hill.
One Democratic lawmaker who has signed the letter is Congressman Ritchie Torres, well-known for his past support for pro-cryptocurrency legislation.
Notably, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had previously led an effort to cite these contested statistics in an earlier letter, was absent from the list of signatories. Her earlier letter asked the government to impose measures to prevent the use of crypto in terrorist funding.