The war on terror is going increasingly digital, and not just in regards to cyberattacks and counter-terror surveillance, but also when it comes to the funding that terrorist organizations rely upon.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for terrorists to move money around in conventional ways, and even suitcases full of cash have limitations.
Cryptocurrencies seemed like a godsend for some groups have needed to move large sums in an anonymous fashion.
But Israel is on to them.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant revealed on Tuesday that Israel had recently and for the first time seized a number of crypto wallets linked to Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force, the branch of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for external operations.
“Over the past few months, the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) in the ministry of Defense, in cooperation with the Mossad, Intelligence Directorate of the IDF, the police, and additional institutions, have developed new capabilities, which have enabled significant achievements in this domain,” Gallant told the third annual crypto conference hosted by the NBCTF.
“This is the first operation of its kind and scale – we have set a precedent in exposing the source of terror-funding via digital currencies. We have thwarted the transfer of millions of dollars to terrorists,” he added.
Already earlier this year, Palestinian terror groups like Hamas announced they would stop receiving funds via digital currencies due to “hostile” third-party activity against donors. Israel had at the time seized cryptocurrencies belonging to Hamas.
But a new Israeli court ruling now permits the Ministry of Defense to seize all cryptocurrency assets linked to a wallet that has ever been used to fund terrorist activity. That means any cryptocurrency source that engages with Quds Force, Hezbollah, Hamas or the like is now at risk of having all its assets seized by the State of Israel.
As Gallant stated, this is a major blow to terrorist financing and will no doubt be emulated by other Western governments.
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