The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has raised an alert urging financial institutions to monitor cryptocurrency transactions potentially linked to terrorist group Hamas.
In a notice Thursday, FinCEN said Hamas has relied on crypto fundraising, including through fictitious charities, to finance its militant activities.
The warning instructed banks and virtual asset service providers to identify and report suspicious transactions that may involve the Palestinian militant group.
FinCEN specifically cited risk indicators like transactions with entities in jurisdictions tied to Hamas, interactions with sanctioned groups, and social media crypto donation solicitations.
The notification comes a day after FinCEN proposed designating crypto mixers as illicit tools to enable terrorism financing and sanctions evasion.
It follows bipartisan calls in Congress for tighter oversight of cryptocurrencies to prevent militant groups from exploiting them.
Over 100 U.S. lawmakers wrote to the Biden administration this week, urging forceful action to curb crypto’s use in terrorism in response to a recent attack on Israel by Hamas.
The Treasury also just sanctioned a Hamas-linked cryptocurrency operator in Gaza accused of helping finance the organization.
FinCEN first warned banks of potential Russian sanctions evasion via crypto shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February.
The alerts highlight how pseudonymous cryptocurrencies have emerged as an avenue for restricted entities to raise funds and transfer money surreptitiously.
While tracing blockchain transactions is possible, sophisticated obfuscation techniques can still stymie monitoring.
FinCEN’s advisories represent part of the U.S. government’s escalating efforts to restrict illicit crypto finance through sanctions, warnings, and regulation.