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Gaza Now and London-Based Businesses Targeted in US-UK Crypto Terrorism Crackdown

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The US and UK authorities have ramped up their crackdown on entities linked to terrorism financing via crypto after the October 7th attacks on Israel.

As such, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the UK’s Office of Foreign Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) imposed fresh sanctions earlier this week on two individuals and three entities for their alleged involvement in fundraising for the Palestinian Sunni Islamist political entity, Hamas.

Pro-Hamas Entities Face Sanctions

The sanctioned entities include Gaza Now, a Gaza-based social media outlet, and two London-based businesses, Al-Qureshi Executives and Aakhirah Limited. Mustafa Ayash, the founder of Gaza Now, and Aozma Sultana, the director of the London businesses, were also targeted. They were found to have promoted pro-Hamas content and facilitated fundraising efforts for the organization.

While Gaza Now had long promoted crypto donation campaigns, and some of the addresses highlighted in sanctions designations began receiving funds in 2021, according to the latest findings by Chainalysis.

However, Gaza Now ramped up these efforts after October 7, frequently changing addresses as a result of increased scrutiny following the attacks and the channel’s subsequent growth in followers Gaza Now regularly posted and then deleted posts asking for donations and switched between several different cryptocurrencies as part of these efforts.

Gaza Now is known to have openly declared support for Hamas and has been running crypto donation campaigns for quite some time, with some addresses flagged for receiving funds since 2021, as per Chainalysis.

However, the blockchain intelligence firm found that the pro-Hamas online media channel frequently changed donation addresses, posting and deleting donation requests, and even switching between various cryptocurrencies following increased attention after the October 7 attacks.

Additional Revelations

Chainalysis also found that all the inflows mainly originated from mainstream crypto exchanges. The flagged addresses received money from three wallets that were previously seized by the National Bulk Cash Smuggling and Counterfeit Task Force (NBCTF), as well as from an Iranian exchange in Iran and a money services business (MSB) in Gaza.

The firm also found that Gaza Now’s personal wallets received slightly more than $40,000 in various crypto assets.

Instant exchanges, crypto tumblers, and smart contracts have also facilitated these fund transfers, indicating donors’ attempts to conceal their activity.

Gaza Now’s incoming transactions were found to be of various amounts, with most being under $10,000. Chainalysis speculated that larger transfers might have been internal movements of funds by the entity or its associates rather than donations.

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