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House Democrats request briefing on seizure of terrorist cryptocurrency assets

House Democrats request briefing on seizure of terrorist cryptocurrency assets

Reps. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerTrump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks Trump's illness sparks new urgency for COVID-19 deal House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall MORE (D-N.J.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) asked the Trump administration on Monday to provide more details on the recent seizure of cryptocurrency assets of several major terrorist groups.

The request came two weeks after the Justice Department announced that the federal government had seized and dismantled cryptocurrency efforts of al Qaeda, ISIS and the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.

The cyber-enabled cryptocurrency schemes used social media to raise money for the groups that included using the COVID-19 pandemic to raise funds. 

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Cleaver, the chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, and Gottheimer, a member of the subcommittee, requested that Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPelosi dismisses talk of White House compromise on stimulus: They 'keep moving the goal post' Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' MORE and Attorney General William BarrBill BarrPolice accountability board concludes that Seattle police officers used excessive force during encounters with protesters Trump hasn't asked Barr to open investigation into Bidens, McEnany says Seattle, Portland, NYC sue Trump administration over threat to pull federal money MORE brief the subcommittee on the operation.

“It is vital that Members of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy receive a briefing, at the appropriate classification level, on this action, the largest ever seizure of online terrorist financing, from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury on this investigation,” Cleaver and Gottheimer wrote.

They also requested that the Treasury Department provide an “assessment” of its efforts to confront malicious actors targeting U.S. financial networks.  

“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 House Democrats wrote.

Gottheimer previously joined a bipartisan group of House members late last year in pressuring Twitter to remove several accounts tied to Hamas and Hezbollah. Twitter ultimately took down the accounts. 

Gottheimer told The Hill in a statement on Tuesday that “foreign terrorist organizations, including ISIS and al Qaeda, are constantly evolving and using tactics to threaten our way of life and we must continue to stay one step ahead.”