Israel Seizes Millions in Cryptocurrency Belonging to Iran’s Islamic Guard, Hezbollah Terrorist Group
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: “This is the first incident of this magnitude. We have effectively cut off the flow of terror funds via this channel.”
Israeli authorities seized millions of dollars in cryptocurrency from accounts linked to Iran’s Islamic Guard (IRGC) terrorist group and Iran-sponsored Hezbollah terror militia, the Israeli media reported.
The latest bust is part of a campaign by Israel to expose Iran’s vast terrorism financing network. Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant launched an “unprecedented operation to find and seize terror funds laundered by terrorist organizations supported by Iran,” the Israeli broadcaster Arutz Sheva reported Tuesday.
With this latest move, Israel “effectively cut off the flow of terror funds” through the mean of cryptocurrency, Defense Minister Gallant declared.
The Associated Press reported:
The Israeli government said Tuesday that it seized millions of dollars in cryptocurrency from accounts that had sent or received funds in alleged financing schemes for a powerful arm of the Iranian military and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he issued an order to seize the cryptocurrency wallets and turn over the funds to the Israeli government.
He described the “extensive” operation as Israel’s first to target the Hezbollah militant group and the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force — two organizations sworn to Israel’s destruction. Both have been designated by the United States and some other governments as terrorist organizations and locked out of the traditional global financial system.
It was a multi-agency effort, Gallant said, involving Israel’s Mossad spy agency, the Israeli military intelligence office, the Israeli police and others.
Israel has previously seized cryptocurrency belonging to the paramilitary arm of Gaza’s Hamas rulers as part of counterterrorism financing investigations.
“This is the first incident of this magnitude,” Gallant said, noting that the effort took place earlier this week. “We have effectively cut off the flow of terror funds via this channel.” (…)
Gallant alleged that Hezbollah and the Quds Force rely on virtual currency to finance their militant activities. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are favored for illicit transactions because they are perceived as hard to trace. Anyone in the world can create a Bitcoin account and begin receiving digital funds without providing a name or address.
The revelation comes nearly two months after Israel went after the Iran-funded terrorist Hamas’s cryptocurrency operations, forcing the jihadist group to suspend Bitcoin transactions.
“In April, Palestinian terrorist group Hamas announced it would stop receiving fundraising via the bitcoin cryptocurrency, citing “hostile” activity against donors, following Jerusalem’s seizure months earlier of numerous digital wallets linked to terrorism funding,” the newspaper Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.
The anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies allows rogue regimes like Iran to transfer assets to terrorist groups across international borders. Iran spends nearly a billion dollars annually to finance terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Yemen’s Houthi militia. Hezbollah alone receives around $700 million a year, the Israeli defense ministry revealed in March.DONATE
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