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Congressmen Inquire About Recent DOJ-Led Crypto Seizure 

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Following a significant Bitcoin bust by federal agents, some members of the United States Congress have raised questions about the government’s handling of the case. According to a report on The Hill this week, House Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ) and Emanuel Cleaver (MO) wrote a letter to the White House asking for details on how they handled funds gotten from terrorist organizations.

The Government’s Largest Crypto-Based Terrorist Financing Operation

The bust itself occurred two weeks ago. At the time, the Department of Justice announced that it had seized millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies from terrorist-linked accounts. 

While the announcement didn’t specify how much it seized, the DOJ explained that the operation had been the largest to target crypto-based terrorist financing to date. The bust had involved several security agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service. The agencies had shut down several Facebook pages and online sites gathering funds for terrorist operations.

In total, the agencies shut down about 300 terrorist financing accounts. Don Fort, the IRS’ Chief of Criminal Investigation, explained that the agency used some new crypto-tracking tools to conduct the operation.

“IRS-CI’s ability to trace funds used by terrorist groups to their source and dismantle these radical group’s communication and financial networks directly prevents them from wreaking havoc throughout the world.,” Fort explained

However, since then, little has been said about the funds seized and the government’s plans for them. Cleaver and Gottheimer planned to get some answers. Both Democrats, Cleaver and Gottheimer act as the chairman and member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee, respectively. Their letter requested that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Attorney-General William Barr brief them on the operation.

As the men explained, the operation’s size and the participation of several government agencies made it a topic of interest. Along with a report on the agencies’ activities, the Congressmen also asked for the Treasury Department to brief them on its efforts to prevent crypto-based attacks on the U.S. financial system.

“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,” the men wrote, per the report.

Terrorist Organizations are Getting Crafty with Crypto

Counter-Terrorist Financing efforts are taking center stage once more, as it appears that terrorist organizations have begun using cryptocurrencies as a means of funding operations. In March, the DOJ announced that it had sentenced Zoobia Shahnaz, a resident of Long Island, to 13 years in jail after sending up to $150,000 in cryptocurrencies to ISIS.

In June, blockchain intelligence company Whitestream also reported that a news website affiliated with the jihadist movement had updated its payment and donations page to adopt Monero. The page reportedly touted Monero’s privacy focus as a reason or the adoption, and it included a tutorial page that taught prospective donors how to make their payments.

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