A bipartisan group of lawmakers demanded answers from the Biden administration on Tuesday about the role cryptocurrency played in financing the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s surprise attacks on Israel earlier this month.
Led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.), the group of over 100 lawmakers also requested information from Treasury under secretary Brian Nelson and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan about the administration’s plans to address Hamas’s crypto financing capabilities.
The push for answers follows a recent report from the Wall Street Journal that Hamas received about $41 million in crypto in the last two years, while another militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), received as much as $93 million.
Both groups are designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the US and face sanctions from the Treasury Department.
“Congress and this Administration must take strong action to thoroughly address crypto illicit finance risks before it can be used to finance another tragedy,” the lawmakers wrote in. Tuesday’s letter,
“As Congress considers legislative proposals designed to mitigate crypto money laundering and illicit finance risks, we urge you to swiftly and categorically act to meaningfully curtail illicit crypto activity and protect our national security and that of our allies,” they added.
Warren and Marshall have been pushing to pass bipartisan legislation to crack down on crypto’s potential illicit uses, such as money laundering, sanctions evasion and drug trafficking, since last year.
However, the bill has faced resistance from Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has questioned the extent to which crypto is already covered by existing regulations. Notably, Brown signed onto Tuesday’s letter.
The Biden administration separately announced a new slate of sanctions on Hamas on Wednesday morning, targeting several of the militant group’s members, a top commander, a Qatar-based financial facilitator and a cryptocurrency exchange based in Gaza.