The IRS Criminal Investigation unit, the Justice Department, and their law enforcement partners say they’ve carried out the largest-ever terrorism-related seizure of cryptocurrencies.
The operation targeted three major terrorist organizations. Authorities say the al-Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda, and ISIS were all soliciting and laundering funds through hundreds of different cryptocurrency addresses.
Says attorney general William Barr,
“It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms, and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas. The Department of Justice will employ all available resources to protect the lives and safety of the American public from terrorist groups.
We will prosecute their money laundering, terrorist financing, and violent illegal activities wherever we find them. And, as announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible.”
More than 300 cryptocurrency accounts holding millions of dollars have been seized, along with four websites and four Facebook pages all connected to the terrorist organizations.
Authorities say the website of al-Qassam Brigades had an instructional video on how to make anonymous donations, in part by generating unique bitcoin addresses for each individual donor.
In the case of ISIS, investigators determined that Murat Cakar, an ISIS member in charge of select hacking schemes, was running a website selling fake personal protective equipment to unsuspecting victims all over the world, including a US-based customer who tried to buy N95 masks and other protective equipment for hospitals, nursing homes, and fire departments.