Israeli authorities have seized roughly 190 Binance accounts with alleged ties to terrorist groups such as Hamas and Daesh since 2021, Reuters reported Thursday.
The report cites never-before-published documents from Israel's National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF), a counter-terrorism division of the Israeli Defense Ministry.
According to those documents, the NBCTF confiscated in January an undisclosed amount of crypto from two accounts with alleged links to Daesh, a terrorist group based in Syria and Iraq. Other government records, dating as far back as 2021, allege more than 100 of the seized Binance accounts had ties to Hamas, an armed Palestinian group that has often clashed with the Israeli Defense Forces.
Israeli authorities seized the funds to "thwart the activity" of Daesh and "impair its ability to further its goals," the NBCTF said on its website.
The NBCTF did not immediately respond to CoinDesk's request for comment.
Israeli law permits the country's defense minister to order the confiscation of terrorist-affiliated assets, as determined by the Israeli ministry.
Anti-Money laundering missteps
Binance came under fire last year for policies that critics say encouraged the exchange’s users to flout its money laundering controls. Since 2017, the exchange has processed more than $10 billion in payments executed by criminal enterprises and other bad actors attempting to circumvent U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported.
Binance says it complies with all regulators to ensure its platform is not accessible to terrorist and other nefarious actors. It also said that it must go through a long process to determine whether an individual account actually has clear ties to any criminal organizations.
"With regard to the specific organizations mentioned in the article, it’s important to clarify that bad actors don’t register accounts under the names of their criminal enterprises,” the company said Thursday in a public response to the Reuters report. “This is why our team collaborates with law enforcement, and leverages information that is only available to them in order to identify individuals operating accounts for illicit organizations.”
The exchange has a 700-member compliance team that processes 1,300 law enforcement requests on a weekly basis," Binance VP of Global Intelligence and Investigations Tigran Gambaryan told CoinDesk at Consensus 2023 in April.
Daesh has seen a resurgence in southern Syria since last year, according to the Middle East Institute.
The once-sprawling caliphate controlled between 100,000 and 110,000 sq. kilometers of land across Syria and Iraq at its peak in late 2014. That area shrank to roughly 4,000 sq. kilometers after a series of armed conflicts with American and other military groups forced the group to retreat. Daesh abandoned its last stronghold in Baghuz, Syria in 2019.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.