Elliptic counters WSJ report on the scale of Hamas’ crypto fundraising
The analytics firm called out newspaper for misinterpreting its data and for failing to issue a correction or clarification.
On Oct. 10, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah raised hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto between August 2021 and June 2023, in part based on data from Elliptic. Senator Elizabeth Warren and other lawmakers later cited that report in a call for action, reporting $130 million raised in total.
Elliptic has gone on record to state that this figure is highly overstated, writing:
Elsewhere in the same piece, it stated:
“The data simply does not support this. No public crypto fundraising campaign by a terrorist group has received significant levels of donations, relative to other funding sources.”
Elliptic explained the error by stating that, in one case, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing (NBCTF) had issued a seizure order against crypto wallets linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Though those wallets had received $93 million, Elliptic said that the terrorist group did not necessarily raise or even own those funds.
Rather, Elliptic said that the wallets were likely owned by services used by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as other non-terrorist entities. Elliptic conceded that some such services have been designated as terrorist organizations due to their key funding roles.
Elliptic is not the only group that has attempted to counter The Wall Street Journal’s claims. Chainalysis similarly suggested that The Wall Street Journal had reported all flows to certain crypto services as belonging to a single terrorist group. Other community members circulated that correction in the days that followed.
Elliptic acknowledges moderate Hamas fundraising
Elliptic did not directly address The Wall Street Journal’s claim that Hamas had raised $41 million of crypto. That estimate was based on information from another analytics firm.
However, Elliptic acknowledged that Hamas began to ask for Bitcoin donations in 2019 and said that those contributions reached their height in May 2021.
Elliptic emphasized that Hamas ended its public requests for crypto donations by April 2023. It also observed that some Hamas-linked groups have seen their funds frozen. Gaza Now, a prominent Hamas news organization, raised $21,000 in crypto but has seen $11,000 of that amount frozen through various methods, according to Elliptic.
Elliptic otherwise stated that it intends to prevent the illegal use of crypto and said that its tools allow its customers to identify and freeze illicit transfers.