Sunday, 3 December 2023

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Advocacy groups push back against Sen. Warren linking crypto with terrorism

Advocacy groups push back against Sen. Warren linking crypto with terrorism

United States-based crypto advocacy organizations are calling out Senator Elizabeth Warren and other lawmakers for some of the claims made regarding connections between the terrorist group Hamas and financing through cryptocurrency.

On Oct. 17, Sen. Warren and more than 100 lawmakers signed a letter calling for action to “meaningfully curtail illicit crypto activity” used for funding Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the wake of an attack on Israelis. The Massachusetts Senator, a prominent crypto opponent in the U.S. Congress, also penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Sen. Roger Marshall on Oct. 18 with claims that “crypto-financed terrorism” endangered U.S. citizens by funding such groups as well as the production of illicit drugs.

Yaya Fanusie, director of anti-money laundering at the Crypto Council for Innovation, said Warren’s proposed solution to some of these issues would not address the problem occurring outside U.S. jurisdictions. Sen. Warren said her bill, the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, was aimed at ensuring “that the same rules to protect traditional payment systems from abuse are extended to crypto”.

“They are proposing KYC [Know Your Customer] rules akin to suggesting that copy machine manufacturers would need to KYC anyone using their copiers,” said Fanusie. “[Warren and Marshall] unfortunately fail to understand that the underlying blockchain technology actually makes transactions public, providing investigators a digital paper trail to identify terrorist operatives and their financial contributors.”

The Blockchain Association (BA) responded with similar claims in an Oct. 18 X (formerly Twitter) thread, pointing to reports from April that groups within Hamas stopped using Bitcoin (BTC) for supporting terrorist activities, as authorities could more easily track funds. According to the advocacy group, “only a small fraction of Hamas’s funding has come from crypto” and it was unclear how terrorists benefitted from those funds in the recent attacks on Israel.

“These proposals [Crypto-Asset National Security Enhancement and Enforcement and Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act] will only punish law-abiding U.S.-based users and push all industry actors to other jurisdictions outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement,” said the BA.

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