OFAC targets Telegram-based news outlet Gaza Now that raised $4.5m in crypto to fund Hamas

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified Gaza Now, a social media news outlet, and its founder Mustafa Ayash for raising cryptocurrency funds with the intention of benefiting Hamas.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.K.’s Office of Foreign Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) have announced together that they have labeled two individuals and three entities as significant contributors to Hamas’ crypto fundraising efforts. Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist organization classified as a foreign terrorist group by both countries.

On March 27, OFAC declared sanctions against Gaza Now through a press release. This organization uses various platforms like Telegram, Instagram, and X for their fundraising activities, which were aimed at supporting Hamas following the October 2023 terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas against Israel.

The Treasury continues to work on limiting Hamas’ capacity to financially support their terrorist actions, including funds raised through internet campaigns aimed at directly funding the organization.

Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

After the terrorist attack in October 2023, as reported by OFAC, Gaza Now initiated a fundraising campaign to aid Hamas.

OFAC targets Telegram-based news outlet Gaza Now that raised $4.5m in crypto to fund Hamas

According to Chainalysis’ blockchain investigation, certain cryptocurrency wallets belonging to the media outlet have been blacklisted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) due to their involvement in crypto donation campaigns. The total receipt in these wallets amounts to approximately $4.5 million, mostly from mainstream exchanges, mixers, and smart contracts.

Gaza Now openly endorses terrorist groups, as shown in the following Telegram channel snapshot. The platform publicly commends the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades affiliated with Hamas.

Chainalysis

An analytics company pointed out that Gaza Now frequently shifted its crypto wallet addresses because of heightened investigation after the attacks and the outlet’s expanding audience. The media organization often posted and afterwards deleted fundraising appeals, hopping between diverse cryptocurrencies during this process, according to Chainalysis.

OFAC’s recent action is an attempt to hinder Hamas’ ability to operate following the devastating October 2023 terrorist incident. During this attack, over 500 Hamas militants infiltrated Israel and fired around thousands of rockets, making it the third-deadliest terrorist attack since 1970, as reported by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, surpassed only by the 9/11 attacks.

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2024-03-28 10:18