Gottheimer, Cleaver Lead Letter Requesting Justice Department Brief on Seizure of Foreign Terrorist Organizations Cryptocurrency Assets

Aug 25, 2020
Press

This week, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) led a letter with Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5) of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, requesting Attorney General William Barr and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brief the Subcommittee on the recent seizure of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency raised by designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

“The Department uncovered extensive and sophisticated solicitations of donations via cryptocurrency from some of the world’s most heinous terrorist groups, including ISIS, al Qaeda, and the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, including taking advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to sell fraudulent personal protective equipment (PPE) to unsuspecting buyers online,” the Members wrote in a letter today. “It is vital that Members of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy receive a briefing, at the appropriate classification level, on this action, the largest ever seizure of online terrorist financing, from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury on this investigation.”

The Members also requested the Treasury provide an assessment of its actions to proactively confront designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations in the financial space. 

In October of last year, Gottheimer led a bipartisan group of lawmakers demanding Twitter cease violating U.S. law and to immediately change their content policy to remove all content from Foreign Terrorist Organizations and affiliated profiles, including accounts operated by Hamas.

In November, CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter suspended content affiliated with Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah, from its platform. 

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin & Attorney General Barr,

Last week, the Department of Justice announced the seizure of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency raised by designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which could be used to finance attacks against Americans and our allies.  The Department uncovered extensive and sophisticated solicitations of donations via cryptocurrency from some of the world’s most heinous terrorist groups, including ISIS, al Qaeda, and the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, including taking advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to sell fraudulent personal protective equipment (PPE) to unsuspecting buyers online.

It is vital that Members of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy receive a briefing, at the appropriate classification level, on this action, the largest ever seizure of online terrorist financing, from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury on this investigation. In addition, we respectfully request Treasury provide an assessment of how it is working to proactively confront and curtail these malign actors within our financial networks. This will further inform the Subcommittee on what legislative actions we should be undertaking to provide regulators and law enforcement the proper resources and tools to continue to address the illicit use of cryptocurrency and disrupt terrorist organizations’ financial networks.

Thank you for your commitment to keeping the American people safe from those who threaten our communities. We look forward to working closely with you as the Subcommittee continues to work on this important issue.

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