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Binance sued by Hamas hostage, families of victims for allegedly facilitating Oct 7 attack in Israel

In World
February 01, 2024

NEW YORK CITY – An American mother who was taken hostage by Hamas in Gaza and the relatives of two men killed following the militant group’s Oct 7 attack have sued crypto giant Binance for allegedly facilitating the violence.

Ms Judith Raanan, who was released with her daughter on Oct 20, and the relatives of Israel Defence Forces soldier Itay Glisko and Dr Daniel Levi Ludmir, who were murdered by Hamas, filed the lawsuit against the digital asset exchange, as well as Iran and Syria, in federal court in Manhattan on Jan 31. 

It appears to be the first civil case in what is expected to be a wave of litigation targeting Hamas and its networks after the militant group’s attack and mass kidnapping that sparked an ongoing war with Israel. 

The lawsuit takes aim at Binance for allowing Hamas to trade on its platform.

The allegation surfaced following a regulatory and criminal investigation into the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange that came to a head in 2023.

Binance pleaded guilty to violating sanctions and anti-money laundering laws that allowed groups like Hamas to circumvent United States banking regulations.

The exchange is paying a criminal fine of US$1.8 billion (S$2.4 billion) and forfeiting US$2.5 billion, while former Binance chief executive officer Zhao Chanpeng is awaiting sentence for violating banking laws.

Officials at Binance did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment. A lawyer for Ms Raanan and the families, Mr Robert Seiden, said he is confident that the victims are entitled “to recover substantial damages” under US law, including an anti-terrorism Act. 

“We have been working on this lawsuit for weeks and believe that anyone who aids terrorism should be held accountable,” he said in a statement. 

According to claims made by the government in the Binance case, Hamas military wing Al-Qassam Brigades used Bitcoin transactions to raise money for the Palestinian resistance.

At least 1.1 million transactions valued at US$899 million were conducted by people living in Iran in violation of US sanctions, the company admitted.

The assistance that Binance provided to Hamas helped finance the violent attacks and recruit individuals to carry out those attacks, the complaint filed on Jan 31 states.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs also allege that Iran emerged as “the principal backer of Hamas terrorism” and that it has increased funding and the supply of weapons to the group in recent years.

“Iran consistently and continuously provided funding to Hamas in the amount of a hundred million US dollars each year for the purpose of allowing Hamas to buy weapons and pay its terrorist fighters and otherwise carry out its terrorist operations,” the complaint states.

Similarly, the plaintiffs argue, Syria was one of the “cradles of Hamas terrorism” and contributed to the group’s military arsenal in the lead-up to Oct 7. The complaint references press reports, publicly available research and documents filed in related court cases.

Ms Raanan, the Glisko family and Dr Ludmir’s uncle, Mr Jeffrey Ludmir, are suing Binance for aiding and abetting and providing material support to Hamas. The plaintiffs are seeking damages against Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism.

Ms Raanan’s daughter, Natalie, who was held captive for two weeks in Gaza, and Ms Raanan’s former husband are also named as plaintiffs. BLOOMBERG

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