Hamas abandons Bitcoin, because BTC is too easily traceable

The Al-Qassam Brigades from Hamas, considered a terrorist movement by the United States and the European Union, announced the end of the mobilization of funds via Bitcoin. This program, launched in 2019 to circumvent international sanctions, has raised millions of dollars. Hamas justifies this decision by the concern to protect the donors, identifiable thanks to the transparency of the blockchain.

Bitcoin, Hamas backtracks

The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement is changing its approach to Bitcoin. After using the asset to mobilize funds, Hamas’ Al-Qassam has announced the end of its fundraising program via Bitcoin. The message was posted on the Hamas website in Arabic and an English translation was made by Chainalysis.

Message from Al Qassam of Hamas in Arabic with English translation
Hamas Al-Qassam message in Arabic with English translation

This decision deprives the group of crucial financial support, but is intended to ensure the safety of its donors, in the face of intensified prosecution of those who attempt to support Hamas via Bitcoin.

As a reminder, in February 2019, the group launched a fundraiser in Bitcoin to circumvent international sanctions. According to the US Department of Justice, Hamas has raised approximately $90 million in Bitcoin.

Yes, Bitcoin is traceable

The Bitcoin has often been accused of facilitating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The decision of the Al-Qassam Brigades from Hamas shows however that the Bitcoin is not an ideal tool for so-called criminal activities. The blockchain, on which the Bitcoin is indeed transparent, allowing the authorities to easily detect the source of funds linked to activities deemed illicit.

The Al-Qassam Brigades from Hamas have learned this the hard way. Indeed, U.S. authorities seized more than $1 million worth of cryptocurrencies associated with AQB donations in August 2020, while in July 2021, Israeli authorities got their hands on AQB crypto wallets.

The transparency of the blockchain makes the funding of so-called illicit activities through crypto easily detectable. Criminals know this and in fact avoid crypto as much as possible. In 2022, only 0.24% of crypto transaction volume is associated with illegal activities. This transparency is not present in traditional finance, which therefore remains more attractive for criminal activities.