A Gaza-based crypto exchange and money transfer business and its operator were among 10 entities sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, the agency said in a notice Wednesday.
The department said that its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company and Ahmed M. M. Alaqad (Alaqad), who it said is based in Gaza, registered the domain name in July 2015 and owns the exchange. Other individuals receiving sanctions included Hamas members managing a secret investment portfolio and a Qatar-based financial operator closely tied to Iran’s government.
“The United States is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas’s financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen in the notice.
She added: “The U.S. Treasury has a long history of effectively disrupting terror finance and we will not hesitate to use our tools against Hamas. We will continue to take all steps necessary to deny Hamas terrorists the ability to raise and use funds to carry out atrocities and terrorize the people of Israel. That includes by imposing sanctions and coordinating with allies and partners to track, freeze, and seize any Hamas-related assets in their jurisdictions.”
The sanctions are part of the U.S.’s ongoing efforts to eliminate sources of funding for Hamas, which has drawn global condemnation for its unprovoked attack on southern Israel settlements earlier this month. In its notice, the Treasury Department said that it had “targeted nearly 1,000 individuals and entities connected to terrorism and terrorist financing by the Iranian regime and its proxies, including Hamas, Hizballah, and other Iran-aligned terrorist groups in the region.”
In May 2022, the OFAC designated a covert Hamas investment network that included six companies and three financial facilitators. It has imposed dozens of sanctions since the opening of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in 2004. The agency said that it continued to coordinate its efforts with “regional partners and allies.”
Wednesday’s notice said that Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terrorist Financing in June 2021 seized a number of digital currency wallets that were tied to a Hamas fundraising campaign. One of the wallets was linked to Buy Cash, which provides money transfer and virtual currency services that include bitcoin. Buy Cash is also thought to have ties to other terrorist groups.
Major crypto companies have worked to distance themselves from Hamas after the Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel, which ignited war in the region. Crypto exchange Binance helped Israel police freeze accounts on the platform linked to Hamas. Stablecoin issuer Tether announced earlier this week that it froze 32 accounts in Israel and Ukraine.