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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 whic mischaracterized the extent to which Hamas and other militant groups have been funding its terrorism activities with cryptocurrencies.

The Oct. 10 article — titled “Hamas Militants Behind Israel Attack Raised Millions in Crypto” — cited blockchain forensics firm Elliptic to say Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist organization operating on 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 from over that timeframe. However, Elliptic made it clear that this by no means meant that PIJ raised these funds to finance its terrorism activities.

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

In WSJ’s correction, it stated PIJ and Lebanese political party Hezbollah “could have exchanged” as much as $12 million in cryptocurrency — far lower than its initial $93 million figure.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah could have exchanged as much as $12 million in crypto since 2021, in accordance with crypto-research firm Elliptic. An earlier version of this text incorrectly said PIJ had sent greater than $12 million in crypto to Hezbollah since 2021,” WSJ said.

WSJ said it updated other parts of the article to incorporate “additional context” about Elliptic’s research.

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

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

On Oct. 27, Elliptic was “pleased” to see WSJ acknowledge its mistakes but said it might’ve liked to see WSJ 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 WSJ’s opening paragraph continues to be framed as if cryptocurrency was the first funding source behind Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“This is barely a correction,” he added.

Nic Carter, partner of Castle Island Ventures and others at the moment are 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 WSJ’s misinterpreted data from Elliptic in an try 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 one other “tragedy.”

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

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