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 in no way meant that PIJ raised these funds to finance its terrorism activities.

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

In WSJ’s correction, it stated PIJ and Lebanese political party Hezbollah “may have exchanged” up to $12 million in cryptocurrency — far less than its initial $93 million figure.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah may have exchanged up to $12 million in crypto since 2021, according to crypto-research firm Elliptic. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said PIJ had sent more than $12 million in crypto to Hezbollah since 2021,” WSJ said.

WSJ said it updated other parts of the article to include “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 data. Elliptic added that cryptocurrency funding by Hamas remains “tiny” relative to other funding sources.

On Oct. 27, Elliptic was “pleased” to see WSJ acknowledge its mistakes but said it would’ve liked to see WSJ be more specific about its corrections.

Coinbase’s chief legal officer Paul Grewal also noted that WSJ’s opening paragraph is still framed as though cryptocurrency was the primary 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 are now 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 attempt 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 another “tragedy.”

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