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Crypto Trading, Cryptocurrency, Cryptocurrency Exchange, Featured

Gaza Groups Receive Crypto Funds via Russian Exchanges

A press report recently revealed that a Hamas-linked Islamic group or Gaza groups and a Palestinian militant organization were using a Moscow-based crypto exchange to transfer millions. The US-sanctioned platform permits customers to convert Russian fiat into crypto. Thereafter, the platform allows customers to withdraw fiat in other countries. The reports claim that the exchange is serving rich Russians and criminals. 

Russian Exchange Transfers Millions in Crypto to Extremist Groups in Gaza

Islamic Jihad is a Palestinian extremist group active in the Gaza Strip, an area under the control of Hamas. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the group received a part of $93 million worth of crypto via Garantex, a Russian crypto exchange. 

The exchange is in Estonia. However, the headquarters are in Moscow. The US Treasury Department sanctioned the exchange in April 2022. Therefore, this measure was to prevent Russia from evading the financial restrictions that were imposed over the Ukraine invasion. 

A Ransomware Group & Darknet Market to Help in Illegal Crypto Transactions 

The crypto trading platform was reported to process illegal transactions. This action was conducted via Conti, a ransomware group, and Hydra, a darknet market. Conti and Hydra were also responsible for the money laundering case of the largest crypto pyramid scheme, Finiko in Russia. The funds went straight towards Rusich, the Russian far-right paramilitary unit. 

Hamas is an Islamist military and political movement. It launched a terrorist attack on Israel in the first week of October. Reports claim the organization used a similar scheme to hide transactions and avoid sanctions. 

Garantex exchange allows users to purchase crypto in Russian fiat. One can convert digital assets into fiat money in other countries. According to the Wall Street Journal, such transactions are very hard to track. Hence, it’s impossible to stop such transactions. 

While the US sanctioned the exchange, it remains active. The exchange owns an office in Moscow. In June, the trading volume of the exchange reached $865 million. This was quite high in comparison to the company’s turnover before it was under ban. 

The Wall Street Journal didn’t reveal any amount received by Hamas via Garantex. On the other hand, the Islamic Jihad uses the world’s largest crypto exchange Binance, to collect crypto funds. However, with the help of Binance, Israeli police successfully froze such accounts. 

Also Read–  A 13-Year-Old Entrepreneur Makes Waves by Trading Sneakers for Bitcoin

Looking Forward 

Cryptocurrency is a valuable inclusion, however misused. However, the question lies if the Palestinians rely on Russian crypto exchanges to receive funds. Share your thoughts. 

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