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Brian Nelson: Cryptocurrencies and terrorists – myth or reality?

Brian Nelson: Cryptocurrencies are not a Popular Tool for Terrorists

Deputy Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, strongly denied reports suggesting that cryptocurrencies are an effective way for armed groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to raise funds. In October, “The Wall Street Journal” reported on the transfer of $93 million and $41 million respectively to radical Palestinian groups, sparking concerns and discussions about stricter regulations governing cryptocurrencies.

Controversies Surrounding Data on Funding for Palestinian Groups

During a committee hearing, Brian Nelson explained that these numbers were misinterpreted. He claimed that the amounts do not directly reflect the money transferred and were mistakenly perceived as direct funding. The blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, whose data was used for the initial report, questioned these figures, adjusting the amount for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to $12 million.

Terrorist Groups Prefer Traditional Financial Services

Nelson emphasized that terrorist groups typically rely on traditional financial services rather than cryptocurrencies as their main source of funding. During the committee session, Representative Tom Emmer inquired about the amount of cryptocurrencies received by the mentioned groups. Brian Nelson suggested that this amount was not significant. He also calls for providing the Treasury Department with tools to help stop terrorism from abusing digital assets.

The Continuous Need to Prevent Misuse of Cryptocurrencies for Illegal Purposes

Surveillance and dismantling of financial networks supporting terrorism are crucial points in the Department’s efforts. Nelson stresses that even though terrorist groups rarely use digital currencies, there is a need for continuous work to prevent their misuse for illegal purposes. Facing potential threats, Brian Nelson encourages strict control and monitoring of cryptocurrency-related situations to prevent their use by terrorist groups.


During the committee hearing, Brian Nelson refuted claims about cryptocurrencies being an effective financing tool for terrorist groups. He highlighted that traditional financial services, which terrorists usually rely on, pose a greater threat. Nevertheless, the Treasury Department is committed to combating financial abuses and preventing the use of digital assets for illicit activities.