Zuhair Shamlakh, a Palestinian businessman for Hamas, used digital currency to finance attacks on Israel. According to Israeli and U.S. law enforcement, Shamlakh sent digital tokens abroad to the Hamas military to settle balances. The Israeli military identified significant transaction amounts through Shamlakh’s digital money exchange. Hamas also used many other foreign crypto exchanges which helped diversify their transactions making it difficult to track.
The use of cryptocurrency helped Hamas and affiliates receive large sums from Iran which helped aid their attacks on Israel. Previously, Hamas would have trusted people shuttling physical cash and goods across the border to settle balances, which is known as the Hawala network. This strategy allows them to evade the Israelis and lessen the risk of moving physical goods.
After the Israeli military took down Hamas’ money man in Gaza, Shamlakh used his digital money exchange known as Al Mutahadun. The Israeli military traced millions of dollars in payments to this exchange and many others. The NBCTF (National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing) identified the digital wallets that received orders of $41 million and $93 million which large portions were used to fund Hamas. The NBCTF ordered to seize Al Mutahadun’s funds and 47 accounts at Binance.
The digital wallets found were likely only a small portion of the wallets used by Hamas. Hamas obfuscated their money trail by changing the wallet addresses daily and sending money through other crypto exchanges worldwide. In addition, many foreign crypto platforms conceal identities and have weak compliance.
Cryptocurrency has created a new funding source for Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The shift to digital exchanges, exemplified by Al Mutahadun, complicates tracking and regulation. The closure of Al Mutahadun offers a partial view into Hamas’ finances, highlighting persistent challenges in monitoring and controlling dynamic crypto transactions on global platforms.