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U.S. Policy on Terrorism: Designation of Hamas Charities & Leaders as Terrorist Entities

(August 22, 2003)

In August 2003, President George W. Bush announced that the U.S. Treasury designated five Hamas charities and six Hamas leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), freezing any assets in the U.S. and prohibiting transactions with U.S. nationals.

“By claiming responsibility for the despicable act of terror on August 19, Hamas has reaffirmed that it is a terrorist organization committed to violence against Israelis and to undermining progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinian people,” President Bush stated.

The following individuals were designated:

Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas in Gaza.

Yassin is the head of HAMAS in Gaza.  He maintains a direct line of communication with other HAMAS leaders on coordination of HAMAS's military activities and openly admits that there is no distinguishing the political and military wings of Hamas.  Yassin also conveys messages about operational planning to other Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Surrounding Yassin is an entourage of personal "bodyguards," including many implicated in providing information and supplies to fugitives, recruiting personnel to undertake military operations, planning terrorist cells, attacking settlements, and manufacturing weapons and explosives.

Imad Khalil Al-Alami, a member of the Hamas Political Bureau in Damascus, Syria.

Imad al-Alami is a member of HAMAS's Political Bureau, located in Damascus, Syria and a military operations leader.  As part of HAMAS's external leadership, he is part of the most effective and powerful wing of HAMAS because it controls the West Bank and prison branches of HAMAS and has gained total financial control.

Al-Alami has had oversight responsibility for the military wing of HAMAS within the Palestinian territories.  As a HAMAS military leader, al-Alami directs sending personnel and funding to the West Bank and Gaza.

Usama Hamdan, a senior Hamas leader in Lebanon.

Hamdan, a senior HAMAS official based in Lebanon , maintains contact with representatives with other terrorist organizations with the purpose of strengthening the ties between these organizations in order to strengthen an international Islamic Jihad.  He has worked with other HAMAS and Hezbollah leaders on initiatives to develop and activate the military network inside the Palestinian territories in support of the current intifada, including the movement of weapons, explosives and personnel to the West Bank and Gaza for HAMAS fighters.

Funds transferred from charitable donations to HAMAS for distribution to the families of Palestinian “martyrs” have been transferred to the bank account of Hamdan and used to support HAMAS military operations in Israel .

Khalid Mishaal, head of the Hamas Political Bureau and Executive Committee in Damascus, Syria.

Mishaal is the chief of HAMAS's Political Bureau in Damascus, Syria and heads HAMAS's Executive Committee and Special Office.   Cells in the military wing based in the West Bank that are under Mishaal's control have been implicated in efforts by HAMAS to plan large attacks that would undermine the "road map" peace plan. 

Mishaal has been responsible for supervising assassination operations, bombings and the killing of Israeli settlers.  To execute HAMAS military activities, Mishaal maintains a direct link to Gaza-based HAMAS leader, Abdel Aziz Rantisi (see below).  He also provides instructions to other parts of the HAMAS military wing.  

Funds transferred from charitable donations to HAMAS for distribution to the families of Palestinian martyrs have been transferred to the bank account of Mishaal and used to support HAMAS military operations in Israel .

Musa Abu Marzouk, Deputy Chief of the Political Bureau in Syria.

Musa Abu Marzouk is the Deputy Chief of HAMAS's Political Bureau based in Damascus, Syria .  His activities include directing and coordinating terrorist acts by HAMAS against soldiers and civilians in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.   Marzouk maintains relationships with other terrorist organizations. 

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, designated as an SDGT under EO 13224 in December 2001 based on its support of HAMAS, received start-up funding and instructions from Marzouk.  Marzouk is implicated in receiving financing for HAMAS terrorist attacks, funds that have been used to mobilize military activity inside Israel and the West Bank/Gaza.

Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader in Gaza reporting to Sheik Yassin.

Rantisi is part of the HAMAS leadership in Gaza, operating directly under HAMAS Leader Shaykh Yassin (see above) with whom he maintains a direct line of communication for the coordination of military operations.  Mishaal (see above) has also issued orders for HAMAS terrorist activities through Rantisi.

In October of 2002, Rantisi was reported in Al-Hayat as personally claiming responsibility for the assassination of a Palestinian Authority Police Colonel.  In December 2002, he was calling for Iraq to prepare thousands of martyrdom cells to fight the United States and its allies in the event of war.

The following charities that provide support to Hamas were designated:

Commite de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), of France and The Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP), of Switzerland. (An organization related to CBSP)

CBSP and ASP are primary fundraisers for HAMAS in France and Switzerland , respectively.  Founded in France in the late 80s/early 90s, CBSP acts in collaboration with more than a dozen humanitarian organizations based in different towns in the West Bank and Gaza and in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon .  ASP, a subsidiary of CBSP, was founded in Switzerland in 1994.  The group has collected large amounts of money from mosques and Islamic centers, which it then transfers to sub-organizations of HAMAS.  Khalid Al-Shuli is the president of CBSP and ASP .

The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, or Interpal, headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Interpal, headquartered in the UK , has been a principal charity utilized to hide the flow of money to HAMAS.  Reporting indicates it is the conduit through which money flows to HAMAS from other charities, e.g., the Al Aqsa Foundation (designated under EO 13224 on May 29th) and oversees the activities of other charities.  For example, the Sanabil Association for Relief and Development (designated as part of this tranche), represents Interpal in Lebanon .  Reporting indicates that Interpal is the fundraising coordinator of HAMAS.  This role is of the type that includes supervising activities of charities, developing new charities in targeted areas, instructing how funds should be transferred from one charity to another, and even determining public relations policy.

The Palestinian Association in Austria, PVOE.

PVOE is controlled by the leader of HAMAS in Austria .  The money is targeted to support members of HAMAS and is funneled through other charities in Lebanon , the West Bank and Gaza or other areas of the Middle East in order to ensure the transfer of funds is undetected and reaches its intended recipients.  PVOE is part of the HAMAS network of charitable organizations that includes the Al Aqsa Foundation.

The Sanabil Association for Relief and Development, based in Lebanon.

The Sanabil Association for Relief and Development (Sanabil), based in Sidon, Lebanon , receives large quantities of funds raised by major HAMAS-affiliated charities in Europe and the Middle East and, in turn, provides funding to HAMAS.   For example, Sanabil has received funding from the Al Aqsa Foundation (designated as an SDGT under EO 13224 in May 2003); the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (designated as an SDGT under EO 13224 in December 2001), and Interpal (designated as an SDGT under EO 13224 as part of this tranche).  HAMAS recruits permanent members from the religious and the poor by extending charity to them from organizations such as Sanabil.

At the request of a HAMAS political leader, Sanabil began opening offices in all of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon in August of 2001 in order to increase the foundation's role inside the camps.   After starting by providing basic necessities the charity eventually began asking poor families within the camps to fill out application forms, particularly those who had worked with the Islamic Movement (Al-Haraka al-Islamiyya) and HAMAS.   As a result of these efforts, Sanabil has increased its scope of influence within the camps.

Sources: U.S. Department of the Treasury