June 22, 2024

US, UK and Australia sanction Hamas cryptocurrency financiers

The sanctions block access to US property and bank accounts and prevent the targeted people and companies from doing business with Americans.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also designated three leaders and supporters of an Iran-aligned militia in Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah, as well as a business that it says moves and launders funds for the organisation.

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, an umbrella group of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq calling itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has launched strikes against bases housing US forces in Iraq and Syria. The group has said the strikes are in retaliation for Washington’s backing of Israel in the war in Gaza and that it aims to push US troops out of Iraq.

Most of the strikes have fallen short or been shot down and have not caused casualties, but on Saturday a missile salvo launched at al-Asad airbase in western Iraq injured a number of US personnel and one Iraqi military service member stationed there.

Some of the Iranian-backed Iraqi miltias, including Kataib Hezbollah, officially operate under the control of the Iraqi military as part of a coalition known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, which was a key player in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group when it rampaged across Iraq and Syria, seizing wide swaths of territory. In practice, however, the groups largely operate outside of state control.

In addition on Monday, the US sanctioned a network of Hamas-affiliated financial exchanges in Gaza— including financial facilitators that transferred funds through cryptocurrency from Iran to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

The UK and Australia coordinated with the US on these sanctions.

“Hamas has sought to leverage a variety of financial transfer mechanisms, including the exploitation of cryptocurrency, to channel funds to support the group’s terrorist activities,” Nelson said. “Treasury, in close coordination with our allies and partners, will continue to leverage our authorities to target Hamas, its financiers, and its international financial infrastructure.”


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