Israeli authorities have achieved a significant milestone in the fight against terrorism financing, according to Chainalysis. On June 27, 2023, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) successfully disrupted the cryptocurrency infrastructure used by Hezbollah, a heavily sanctioned terrorist group based in Lebanon, and Iran’s Quds Force, known for its extensive funding and collaboration with Hezbollah. This operation marks the first time that cryptocurrency has been seized from these organizations, with a total value of approximately $1.7 million. The joint efforts also resulted in the dismantling of the cryptocurrency-based terrorism financing network operated by both groups. It is worth noting that Chainalysis tools played a vital role in facilitating this landmark achievement in national security.
The seizure carried out by NBCTF represents yet another significant victory in the ongoing battle against cryptocurrency-based terrorism financing. The announcement sheds light on the operational tactics employed by Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations in utilizing cryptocurrencies for their illicit activities.
Traditionally, Hezbollah has relied heavily on financial support from Iran, particularly through the Iran Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). However, the recent revelations indicate a shift in their funding methods, with a portion of the funds being channeled through cryptocurrencies. The investigation uncovered a pattern wherein funds were transferred from financial facilitators to hawala services and over-the-counter (OTC) brokers before being directed to Hezbollah-controlled addresses at mainstream cryptocurrency exchanges. Previous analyses primarily focused on the laundering of small donations, rather than funding from state sponsors like Iran. Thus, these findings provide crucial insights into the evolving tactics of terrorism financing.
The NBCTF’s seizure primarily targeted the wallets controlled by Tawfiq Muhammad Said Al-Law, a hawala operator based in Syria. Al-Law collaborated with senior Hezbollah operators, including Muhammad Qasim Al-Bazzal and Muhammad Ja’far Qasir, both of whom are sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Their collaboration facilitated the operation of Hezbollah’s cryptocurrency funding infrastructure, with Qasir playing a crucial role in managing financial disbursements from Iran’s Quds Force to support Hezbollah’s activities.