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Hamas Assets in U.S. Frozen

The Bush administration froze the assets of an American Islamic foundation and two overseas groups accused of financing the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The administration also shut four U.S. offices of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an organization based in Richardson, Texas, that raised $13 million last year. The foundation, which calls itself the largest Muslim charity in the United States, denied that it was a front for Hamas; however, federal officials said that after investigating the organization for years they had determined it was intimately connected with Hamas.

The FBI said that Holy Land's founder and chief executive, Shukri Abu Baker, "has been repeatedly identified as a member [of] Hamas." The bureau said an informant quoted him as saying the foundation's mission is to financially support the families of suicide bombers. The FBI said the group was also privately called Hamas's "primary fundraising entity in the United States."

The FBI also said the foundation "assistas Hamas by providing a constant flow of suicide volunteers and buttresses a terrorist infrastructure heavily reliant on moral support of the Palestinian populace." The group provides funds through its offices in the territories, through other Muslim charities controlled by Hamas, and through other charities not directly run by Hams, but supporting it. The adminitration's order immediately froze $1.9 million in foundation funds in at least five banks.

The U.S. government also seized assets of the Al-Aqsa Islamic Bank and Beit el-Mal Holdings, an investment group, both based in the West Bank. Attorney General John Ashcroft said the United States "will not be used as a staging ground for the financing of those groups that violently oppose peace as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Washington Post