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Hamas shifts to bitcoin for fundraising

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Hamas shifts to bitcoin for fundraising

Hamas shifts to bitcoin for fundraising

New research shows how the armed wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas is using bitcoin to raise and move money.

Julian Satterthwaite reports.


Hamas shifts to bitcoin for fundraising

You're looking at bitcoin enthusiasts.

The cryptocurrency may have tumbled in value, but Palestinian militant group Hamas still seems to be a fan.

Researchers at London firm Elliptic say they've traced how the organisation's armed wing uses electronic money to raise funds.

The al Qassam Brigades have in recent weeks started using this web site to instruct supporters in how to make bitcoin donations.

Money can be sent anonymously to multiple electronic wallets that are hard to trace.

Reuters cryptocurrency correspondent Tom Wilson is in London: REUTERS REPORTER TOM WILSON SAYING (ENGLISH): "At the moment the sums involved are relatively small.

The research organisation thinks that only seven thousand dollars so far has been raised in this way, but it's an example of how a group proscribed by many major governments as a terrorist organisation has been looking to use cryptocurrencies to raise money." Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. and EU.

And it has a clear need to explore new funding options.

Egypt and Israel have closed hundreds of smuggling tunnels that it used to use to move goods into Gaza, the Palestinian enclave that it rules.

The London researchers say the current bitcoin payments could be a trial run for something much bigger.

And there's little that authorities can do: REUTERS REPORTER TOM WILSON SAYING (ENGLISH): "In the past, options have been fairly limited for governments in how to deal with illegal usages of cryptocurrrencies.

The U.S. authorities last year sanctioned two bitcoin wallets associated with Iranians that they said were being used for cyber attacks.

We haven't yet seen any similar move for Hamas." Bitcoin isn't entirely untraceable.

Elliptic was able to track the Hamas money movements to some degree.

It says many donations came through a major Asian cryptocurrency exchange.

More research might enable efforts to hamper or slow any payments deemed illegal.

Stopping them altogether though?

Right now, that looks hard.

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