Fans of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin appreciate their promise of anonymity and independence from banks and state institutions. For this very reason, critics have long seen it as the preferred means of payment for drug traffickers, terrorists and other criminals. Now it turns out that not even the terrorists still trust what Bitcoin once promised.

Alexander Wulfers

Editor in the economy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian terror organization Hamas, led by Mohammed Deif, have said that they will no longer accept donations in Bitcoin with immediate effect. According to Hamas, it has become too easy to trace or prevent transactions. It is about the "safety of their donors" and to protect them from harm, the organization said.

In recent years, cryptocurrencies have become even more important for Hamas and other terrorist organizations. In 2021, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz called it "the secret weapon that helps Hamas take in millions of dollars." Today, however, new technical developments make it easier for law enforcement agencies to track crypto transactions.

Over time, Hamas had made its transactions more complex in order to avoid persecution. Now the risk assessment no longer seems to work. On Thursday, Reuters news agency reported that Israeli authorities had seized about 2021 crypto accounts since 190. Two of them are linked to the terrorist organization "Islamic State", dozens more to Hamas.