OFAC targets Telegram-based news outlet Gaza Now that raised $4.5m in crypto to fund Hamas

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OFAC designated social media news outlet Gaza Now and its founder Mustafa Ayash for crypto fundraising efforts aimed at supporting Hamas.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) alongside the U.K.’s Office of Foreign Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) jointly designated two individuals and three entities as key financial donors involved in crypto fundraising for Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni Islamist political and military movement designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

In a press release on Mar. 27, OFAC announced sanctions against Gaza Now, which operates on platforms such as Telegram, Instagram, and X, for its role in “fundraising efforts to support Hamas” following the October 2023 terrorist attack carried out by Hamas against Israel.

“Treasury remains committed to degrading Hamas’ ability to finance its terrorist activities, including through online fundraising campaigns that seek to funnel money directly to the group.”

Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

According to OFAC, following the October 2023 terrorist attack, Gaza Now began a fundraising effort in support of Hamas.

OFAC targets Telegram-based news outlet Gaza Now that raised $4.5m in crypto to fund Hamas - 1
Gaza Now-linked crypto addresses and inflows from an Iranian exchange as well as other entities | Source: Chainalysis

Data revealed by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis shows that OFAC has sanctioned a few crypto addresses controlled by the media outlet, which have been used in crypto donation campaigns. In total, those addresses have received nearly $4.5 million in crypto from mixers, smart contracts, and “primarily from mainstream exchanges.”

“Gaza Now makes no secret of its support for terrorist organizations. In the screenshot of its Telegram channel below, for instance, the outlet expresses praise for the Hamas-aligned Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.”

Chainalysis

The analytics firm noted that Gaza Now frequently changed crypto addresses due to increased scrutiny following the attacks and the channel’s growing number of followers. The news outlet regularly posted and then deleted donation requests, switching between various cryptocurrencies as part of these efforts, Chainalysis added.

The latest move by OFAC represents another effort to disrupt Hamas’ operational capabilities in the wake of the October 2023 terrorist attack, which saw hundreds of Hamas militants invading Israel and launching thousands of rockets, ranking by the Center for Strategic and International Studies as the third-deadliest terrorist attack since 1970, trailing only behind the 9/11 attacks.


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