The United States (US) Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on 27 October, a second round of sanctions targeting the Palestinian militant group Hamas, in response to their attack on Israel earlier this month.
These sanctions have been directed towards several key entities and individuals.
One of the focal points of these sanctions is a Hamas official based in Iran, as well as members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The sanctions primarily focus on freezing additional assets within Hamas’s investment portfolio and also extend to individuals associated with facilitating sanctions evasion by companies affiliated with Hamas.
Furthermore, the US Treasury intends to designate another Hamas official in Iran, along with more members of Iran’s IRGC.
Another notable aspect of these sanctions is the targeting of a Gaza-based entity that serves as a channel for the illicit flow of Iranian funds to both Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
This is a significant step in curtailing the financial support received by these groups.
The Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said:
“Today’s action reaffirms the United States’ commitment to dismantling Hamas’s funding networks. We are using our counterterrorism sanctions authorities and collaborating with global partners to prevent Hamas from exploiting the international financial system.”
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally also emphasised the need for enhanced vigilance in the digital asset space, as certain firms have been insufficient in preventing the misuse of cryptocurrencies for illicit financing.
In response to the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, which escalated following an attack on 7 October, it has been reported that a substantial number of Palestinians lost their lives, with varying figures from different sources.
It has come to light that Hamas received financial support in the form of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin, receiving a substantial amount of $7.3 million in digital currencies from its allies during the Israel-Hamas conflict.
In light of this revelation, the OFAC has imposed sanctions specifically related to Hamas-related crypto transactions.
The sanctions announced aim to freeze any US assets held by the targeted groups and generally prohibit Americans from engaging in any transactions with them.
Individuals who conduct specific transactions with these entities may also face sanctions.
These measures extend to a wide range of entities and individuals, including a Jordanian national residing in Tehran, Iran, who is identified as the representative of Hamas in Iran.
Additionally, officials from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) who provide training and support to Hamas and other militant groups have been targeted.
The sanctions also encompass an Iran-based commander of the Saberin Special Forces Brigade of the IRGC Ground Force, which has deployed to Syria and provided training to both Hamas and Hezbollah members.
Furthermore, Sudan and Spain-based companies, as well as Turkish shareholders of a company previously designated as part of the Hamas investment portfolio, have also been subject to these sanctions.
The US has estimated the value of the Hamas investment portfolio to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with companies operating in various countries, including Turkey, Sudan, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, and other locations.
Earlier this year, the OFAC made a decision to label international cryptocurrency mixers and digital asset platforms that offer anonymity for users as potential money-laundering hubs.
As a result, all financial transactions in this space are now required to be specially reported before approval.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally has noted that while cryptocurrencies did not constitute the majority of funding for terrorist groups to conceal their finances, the US is taking proactive steps to prevent their illicit use for financing in the future.
“We will not hesitate to take action to further degrade Hamas’s ability to commit horrific terrorist attacks by relentlessly targeting its financial activities and streams of funding.”