Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh attends a rally marking the 30th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 14, 2017.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
The United States government has become the first country outside of Israel to categorize Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Ismail Haniyeh has been involved in Hamas’s campaign of terrorism against Israel for years and even decades. The United States is not fooled by any attempt by Hamas to re-brand itself. We know it for what it is, a terror organization committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Haniyeh called for a violent uprising
until “Jerusalem’s liberation” in response to US President Donald Trump’s declaration on December 6 in which he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
According to Sales, the consequences of the labeling of a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under executive order 13224, which aims to impede terrorist-funding, is “significant.”
“All assets belonging to Haniyeh under US jurisdiction will be frozen,” Sales told the Post. “This designation allows us to dry up the sources of funding and kick them out of the international financial system. We don’t want to only stop the bomber, but the person who buys the bombs.”
Israeli officials have accused Iran of growing involvement in funding terrorist groups such as Hamas to carry out attacks against the Jewish state. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has said the Islamic Republic has increased its funding to Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the tune of $100 million in order to gain more influence in the Gaza Strip.
While increased ties between Hamas and Iran played a role in the Specially Designated Global Terrorist designation, according to Sales, the Trump’s administration’s top priority is to defeat terrorism that threatens the United States and its allies “in all its forms.”
“Israel is, of course, one of our closest allies, especially when it comes to counterterrorism. We have a strong interest in ensuring the continued security of Israel,” he said. “And so, groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which threaten Israel on a daily basis – we will do what we can to put pressure to bear on those groups.”
The US gave the Specially Designated Global Terrorist designation to Hamas members Yahya Sinwar and Muhammad Deif in September 2015.
In addition to Haniyeh, the United States will also assign the terrorist designation to Harkaat al-Sabareen, an Iranian-backed terrorist group in the Gaza Strip that broke from Islamic Jihad in May 2014.
“This group has launched rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip and has also planned deadly terror attacks,” Sales said, adding that the group is part of Iran’s network of terrorist organizations it uses to spread its influence around the world.
“By designating this group, we are signaling very clearly that Iran’s consistent support for terrorism is incompatible with the values of a civilized society and must stop.”
Two Egyptian groups, Liwa al-Thura and Hazm, both offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, will also be designated by the US government as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
“These groups, in their relatively short history, have compiled a truly bloody record of killing senior Egyptian government and military officials as well as innocent civilians,” Sales said. “A stable Egypt is in the interest of the United States and in the interest of Israel, and this is why we are pursuing these two designations.”