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Wall Street Journal corrects article misciting Hamas’ crypto terrorism funding data

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has partially corrected an article that mischaracterized the extent to which Hamas and other militant groups have been funding its terrorist activities with cryptocurrencies.

The Oct. 10 article titled “Hamas Militants Behind Israel Attack Raised Millions in Crypto” cited blockchain forensics firm Elliptic and said Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist organization operating in the Gaza Strip, raised as much as $93 million between August 2021 and June 2023.

In the cited report, Elliptic said Israel’s counter-terrorism unit seized PIJ-linked wallets, which received $93 million over that timeframe. However, Elliptic clarified that this did not mean PIJ raised these funds to finance its terrorism activities.

Research from blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis suggests only $450,000 of these funds were sent to a known terrorism-affiliated wallet.

The WSJ’s correction stated PIJ and Lebanese political party Hezbollah “may have exchanged” up to $12 million in cryptocurrency — far less than its initial $93 million figure.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah may have exchanged up to $12 million in crypto since 2021, according to crypto-research firm Elliptic. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said PIJ had sent more than $12 million in crypto to Hezbollah since 2021,” The WSJ said.

The publication said it updated other parts of the article to include “additional context” about Elliptic’s research.

Corrections made by The WSJ’s Oct. 10 article. Source: The WSJ

The WSJ’s retraction follows an Oct. 25 statement by Elliptic, which called on The WSJ to correct its misinterpretation of the data. Elliptic added that cryptocurrency funding by Hamas remains “tiny” relative to other funding sources.

On Oct. 27, Elliptic was pleased to see The WSJ acknowledge its mistakes but said it would’ve liked to see it be more specific about its corrections.

Related: Elizabeth Warren uses Hamas as her newest scapegoat in war on crypto

Coinbase’s chief legal officer Paul Grewal also noted that The WSJ’s opening paragraph is still framed as though cryptocurrency was the primary funding source behind Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“This is barely a correction,” he added.

Nic Carter, a partner at Castle Island Ventures, as well as several other prominent individuals in crypto, are now calling on United States Senator Elizabeth Warren to retract a related letter backed by over 100 U.S. lawmakers written to the White House on Oct. 17.

The letter cited The WSJ’s misinterpreted data from Elliptic in an attempt to argue that cryptocurrency poses a “national security threat” to the U.S. and that Congress and the Biden administration should act swiftly before cryptocurrencies are used to finance another “tragedy.”

Magazine: US enforcement agencies are turning up the heat on crypto-related crime

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 10/29/2023

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