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Exclusive: Israel seized Binance crypto accounts to ‘thwart’ Islamic State, document indicates

Photo image: Binance

According to documents, Israel’s counter-terror authorities have seized 190 Binance crypto accounts since 2021, including two linked to Islamic State and dozens owned by Palestinian firms linked to Hamas.

One document on the NBCTF’s website indicated that on Jan. 12, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) seized two Binance accounts and their contents. The seizure was to “thwart the activity” of Islamic State and “impair its ability to further its goals,” the NBCTF claimed on its website.

The unreported NBCTF document did not specify the amount of the crypto recovered or how the accounts were linked to the Islamic State. Reuters’ calls and emails to Binance, the largest crypto exchange by trade volume, went unanswered.

The NBCTF’s parent ministry, Israel’s defense ministry, did not immediately reply to Reuters. Israel’s military minister can seize and confiscate terrorism-related assets.

To combat money laundering and terrorism, regulators worldwide have asked for tougher crypto exchange restrictions. Israel’s NBCTF raids show how governments pursue crypto firms to stop unlawful behavior.

Binance, created in 2017 by CEO Changpeng Zhao, discloses information to governments and law enforcement agencies when legally necessary.

In March, Binance informed U.S. lawmakers it “continued to invest tremendous resources to enhance its compliance program” and screens users for terrorism links. The NBCTF papers indicated that three Palestinian currency exchange businesses held most of the 189 Binance accounts confiscated by Israel since December 2021.

According to the NBCTF’s website, Israel considers the three “terrorist organizations” for their suspected role in Hamas’s Gaza financial transfers.

In a document last month, the NBCTF confiscated crypto worth over 500,000 shekels ($137,870) from over 80 Binance accounts linked to three Gaza-based organizations, Al Mutahadun For Exchange, Dubai Company for Exchange, and Al Wefaq Co. For Exchange. The paper stated “terrorist organizations” owned or utilized the accounts for “severe terror crimes.” Israeli media covered the April seizures.

According to an insider, Al Mutahadun did not collaborate “at all” with crypto or Hamas. “We swap money. “Israeli claims are baseless,” the individual claimed. The NBCTF list says Israel classified Al Mutahadun a “terrorist organization” in May 2021. Reuters’ emails and WhatsApp messages to Al Wefaq and Dubai Co. went unanswered.

Binance didn’t answer Reuters’ inquiries on the three currency exchange businesses’ accounts.

Hazem Qassem, the Hamas spokesperson, denied ties to money exchange firms. Qassem claimed Israel was trying to “justify its economic war against Gaza and its people” by accusing the enterprises. Hamas’s armed wing stopped accepting Bitcoin last week due to “hostile” donor activities.

Binance, CEO Zhao, and former compliance officer Samuel Lim face civil charges from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for “wilful evasion” of commodities regulations. Zhao termed the allegations “incomplete recitation of facts.”

The CFTC said Lim obtained Binance transaction data on Hamas in 2019. Lim informed a coworker that “terrorists” send modest amounts because “large sums constitute money laundering,” according to the CFTC complaint.

 

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