U.S. Sen. Warren Leads Lawmakers to Push Administration on Crypto-Backed Terrorism

In a letter to top U.S. security officials, 102 lawmakers demanded to know what the Treasury Department and others are doing to prevent the use of crypto to finance terrorism.

AccessTimeIconOct 18, 2023 at 3:16 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 18, 2023 at 4:54 p.m. UTC

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led more than a hundred lawmakers in demanding top officials share their plans for heading off crypto-financed terrorism.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the Senate and the House of Representatives signed a letter dated on Tuesday to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Brian Nelson, undersecretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence at the Department of the Treasury. They cited reports that crypto funds had supported Hamas in the months before its attack on Israel, with the group directly soliciting bitcoin donations.

“Given the clear and present danger posed by the financing of these and other militant organizations, we ask the Administration to provide additional details on its plan to prevent the use of crypto for the financing of terrorism,” they requested in the letter. "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 letter effort was also led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.). The signers included Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Warren has been advocating for her legislation meant to target money laundering and sanctions abuses in crypto, which is co-sponsored by Marshall. The bill, which crypto lobbyists have argued would pose significant threats to the industry in the U.S., hasn't yet found any traction at the committee level so remains a long shot for this year.

Even as the letter circulated Wednesday morning, the Treasury announced new sanctions against individuals and entities tied to Hamas, including a Gaza-based business accused of being a bitcoin conduit for terrorists.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.