Chainalysis emphasized that assessments of cryptocurrency’s role in terrorism financing are frequently exaggerated when they encompass all transactions processed by intermediary service providers. The blockchain analytics company has refuted reports and analyses circulating in the media that overstate the involvement of cryptocurrencies in funding terrorism. In a recent report aimed at rectifying misconceptions about terrorists using crypto to fund their operations, Chainalysis data revealed that digital assets have a limited impact on this activity. Chainalysis noted that while certain terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Jihad, and Hezbollah, do utilize cryptocurrencies to raise and transfer funds, these transactions constitute only a small fraction of the already scarce volume of illicit cryptocurrency transactions.
“Terrorism financing is a very small portion of the already very small portion of cryptocurrency transaction volume that is illicit,” Chainalysis said.
The report observed that historically, terrorist groups have relied on conventional fiat-based methods such as financial institutions, hawala, and shell companies as their primary means of financing, and it is likely they will continue to do so.
Chainalysis highlighted that the transparency of blockchain transactions makes it an unsuitable choice for terrorists. This is a significant reason why Hamas ceased accepting Bitcoin donations. The transparency of blockchain transactions enables law enforcement to trace the source and destination of every transaction on the blockchain, a task that is nearly impossible with cash transfers.
Chainalysis Debunking Flawed Estimation Models
The report delved deeper into the issues surrounding the analysis of cryptocurrency flows into accounts associated with terrorist organizations. This examination comes in the wake of the recent Hamas attack on Israel, which led to numerous reports regarding the estimated volume of cryptocurrency being used to support the group’s activities.
Nonetheless, Chainalysis underscored that these estimates of cryptocurrency-driven terrorism financing often become inflated when analysts encompass all transactions processed by intermediary service providers, rather than focusing solely on those directly linked to terrorist groups.
The report cautioned that even though substantial amounts of cryptocurrency may appear to be connected to terrorists, a significant portion of these funds are unrelated. To enhance privacy, most service providers aggregate multiple transactions from different users, making the tracing of such transactions prone to producing inaccurate estimates.
As an illustration, the report cited a wallet associated with terrorism financing, which had approximately 20 suspected service providers as counterparties. Among these counterparties, the firm identified numerous transactions involving substantial sums of cryptocurrency, totaling over $82 million.
Chainalysis emphasized that it would be erroneous to assume that all these funds were raised for terrorism financing. Through further investigation, the analytics company found that only around $450,000 worth of cryptocurrency from the known wallet affiliated with terrorism had passed through this specific counterparty.
Furthermore, the report encouraged investigators to take into account the role of service providers, as they can, whether knowingly or unknowingly, facilitate the movement of funds related to terrorism. Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Israeli government took action by disabling more than 100 Binance accounts that potentially had links to Hamas.