Military

Seized terrorist cryptocurrency may be used for the Iraq War Fund

October 2, 2020

The campaigns, from which U.S. authorities seized millions of dollars, relied on sophisticated cyber tools and the solicitation of cryptocurrency donations from around the world. Forfeited funds from the case may in whole or in part be directed to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism (USVSST) Fund.

Three major terrorist financing campaigns involving the al-Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have been dismantled, according to an announcement in August from the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury. The campaigns, from which U.S. authorities seized millions of dollars, relied on sophisticated cyber tools and the solicitation of cryptocurrency donations from around the world (1). The actions have become the U.S. government’s largest-ever terrorism-related cryptocurrency seizure.

The al-Qassam Brigade campaign, beginning in 2019, utilized social media pages to solicit bitcoin donations to fund its terror operation. Boasting that the money would both be untraceable and used for violent causes, their websites even offered video instruction on how to anonymously make the donations. U.S. authorities caught on, however, and IRS, HIS and FBI agents tracked and seized all 150 cryptocurrency accounts associated with al-Qassam’s campaign.

The al-Qaeda campaign operated in a similar manner, relying on Telegram channels and social media platforms to also solicit donations and further their terrorist goals. The campaign also purported to act as charities in some instances, even as the donations were ultimately being raised to equip terrorists in Syria with weapons. “Undercover HSI agents communicated with the administrator of Reminder for Syria, a related charity that was seeking to finance terrorism via bitcoin donations. The administrator stated that he hoped for the destruction of the United States, discussed the price for funding surface-to-air missiles, and warned about possible criminal consequences from carrying out a jihad in the United States (2).”

ISIS’s campaign involved a scheme by Murat Cakar, an ISIS facilitator whose operation involved selling fake personal protective equipment. “The website claimed to sell FDA-approved N95 respirator masks, when in fact the items were not FDA approved. Site administrators claimed to have near unlimited supplies of the masks, in spite of such items being officially designated as scarce. The site administrators offered to sell these items to customers across the globe, including a customer in the United States who sought to purchase N95 masks and other protective equipment for hospitals, nursing homes, and fire departments (3).”

Attorney General William Barr commented regarding the campaigns, “It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas. The Department of Justice will employ all available resources to protect the lives and safety of the American public from terrorist groups. We will prosecute their money laundering, terrorist financing and violent illegal activities wherever we find them (4).”

Iraq War Fund

Forfeited funds from the case may in whole or in part be directed to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism (USVSST) Fund. As you may recall, the Fund, which is commonly referred to as the Iraq War Fund, was established to provide compensation to individuals who were injured by acts of international state sponsored terrorism. The Fund is funded by certain case proceeds and penalties that arise from “a violation of any license, order, regulation, or prohibition issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) or the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA),” or related scheme that involves acting on behalf of or doing business with a state sponsor of terror (5).

All funds arising from criminal matters related to such violations, including the net proceeds from the sale of property from any of these violations, must be deposited into the USVSST Fund. For civil matters, as of November 21, 2019, seventy-five percent of all funds and proceeds from the sale of property from such violations must be deposited into the Fund as well. Qualifying deposits received by the Fund in fiscal year 2019 included forfeitures and fines from Standard Chartered Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Stanley Black and Decker, Inc.

The Fund will continue to identify and track other cases and matters, similar to the terrorist cyber-enabled financing campaigns mentioned above, that may lead to future deposits. Cases with deposits received in fiscal year 2020 will be updated after the close of the 2020 fiscal year at the end of September.

Third Round Iraq War Fund Payments

It was announced by Deborah L. Connor, the Interim Special Master of the Fund, that $1,075,000,000 would be allocated for third-round payments from the Fund. The Fund authorized third-round payments by the May 19, 2020 deadline that was set and has issued claim amount letters to all eligible claimants. The average payment amounts for third-round payments were approximately $50,000 for 9/11-related claimants and approximately $200,000 for non-911-related claimants. Read the full Congressional Report from the Special Master regarding the third distribution here.

The Fund will continue to process eligible claims for payment. Subsequent rounds of payment will be authorized by the Special Master by January 1 in subsequent years, if funds are available, until the USVSST Fund expires in 2030.

If you or a loved one are a U.S. military service member, veteran, or military contractor who suffered injuries from certain explosive terrorist devices between 2003 and 2011, you may have a claim for significant damages without ever going to court and even if you are already receiving disability or other compensation. Complete the form here or call our legal intake center at 1(888) 438-6453 for a free and no-obligation review of your case. We're here to help. If you do not receive a recovery through a lawsuit or settlement, you don’t owe us anything.

References

1. https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/global-disruption-3-terror-finance-cyber-enabled-campaigns?ocid=uxbndlbing’

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. http://www.usvsst.com/deposits.php

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