| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

New crypto front emerges in Israel’s militant financing fight

In Israel’s struggle against the financing of terrorist organizations backed by Iran, ranging from Hezbollah to Hamas, a new battleground has emerged: the rapidly expanding Tron cryptocurrency network.

According to interviews with seven financial crime experts and blockchain investigations specialists, Tron has surpassed its larger rival Bitcoin as a platform for cryptocurrency transfers linked to groups that have been designated as terror organizations by Israel, the US, and other nations. Tron is also faster and less expensive than Bitcoin.

A Reuters’ analysis of crypto seizures announced by Israeli security services since 2021 reflects the trend, showing for the first time a sharp rise in the targeting of Tron wallets and a fall in Bitcoin wallet seizures.

“Earlier it was Bitcoin and now our data shows that these terrorist organizations tend to increasingly favor Tron,” said Mriganka Pattnaik, CEO of New York-based blockchain analysis firm Merkle Science, citing Tron’s faster transaction times, low fees, and stability.

Merkle Science says it counts law enforcement agencies in the United States, Britain and Singapore as clients.

Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF), which is responsible for such seizures, froze 143 Tron wallets between July 2021 and October 2023 that it believed were connected to a “designated terrorist organization” or used for a “severe terror crime,” the Reuters analysis found.

  • Reuters