Hamas shifts to bitcoin for fundraising

New research shows how the armed wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas is using bitcoin to raise and move money.

The cryptocurrency may have tumbled in value, but Palestinian militant group Hamas still seems to be a fan.

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Researchers at London firm Elliptic say they've traced how the organisation's armed wing uses electronic money to raise funds.

The al Qassam Brigades have in recent weeks started using this web site to instruct supporters in how to make bitcoin donations.

Money can be sent anonymously to multiple electronic wallets that are hard to trace.

Reuters cryptocurrency correspondent Tom Wilson commented:

"At the moment the sums involved are relatively small. The research organisation thinks that only seven thousand dollars so far has been raised in this way, but it's an example of how a group proscribed by many major governments as a terrorist organisation has been looking to use cryptocurrencies to raise money."

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. and EU.

And it has a clear need to explore new funding options.

Egypt and Israel have closed hundreds of smuggling tunnels that it used to use to move goods into Gaza, the Palestinian enclave that it rules.

The London researchers say the current bitcoin payments could be a trial run for something much bigger.

Source: Julian Satterthwaite for Thomson Reuters, Israeli Military Handout, April 26