U.S. adds Hamas leader Haniyeh to terror list

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Christopher Sparks, January 31, 2018

Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh was designated as a global terrorist by the United States on Jan. 31.

The U.S. State Department said in a press release it has designated Haniyeh, as well as the jihadist groups Harakat al-Sabireen, Liwa al Thawra and Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM) as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

Ismail Haniyeh

“These designations target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran – who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. “Today’s actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities.”

The terror designations “seek to deny Ismail Haniyeh, Harakat al-Sabireen, Liwa al Thawra, and HASM the resources they need to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks,” the State Department said. “Among other consequences, all of their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.”

Haniyeh, the leader of the Political Bureau of Hamas, “has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians” and “has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens,” the State Department said.

Hamas was designated by the U.S. as a foreign terror organization in 1997.

Harakat al-Sabireen “is an Iranian backed terrorist group that was established in 2014” and “operates primarily in Gaza and the West Bank,” the State Department said. The group is led by Hisham Salem, a former leader of the Palestine Islamic Jihad.

“Harakat al-Sabireen has carried out terrorist activities targeting Israel, pursues an anti-American agenda, and has attracted members and supporters of PIJ,” the State Department said. “These planned and executed terrorist attacks include firing rockets into Israel in September 2015 and detonating an explosive device targeting an Israeli army patrol in December 2015. Harakat al-Sabireen also previously established a rocket factory in Gaza that was destroyed in the summer of 2014, and the group had plans to carry out attacks against Israel in February 2016. Palestinian Authority security forces arrested five Harakat al-Sabireen operatives who were working under Iranian orders and received funding in Gaza to carry out their attacks.”

Liwa al-Thawra “is a terrorist group active in the Qalyubia and Monofeya governorates of Egypt,” the State Department said. “After announcing its formation in August 2016, the group claimed responsibility for the October 2016 assassination of brigadier general Adel Ragai, commander of the Egyptian army’s Ninth Armored Division, outside his home in Cairo. In 2017, the group claimed responsibility for a bombing outside a police training center in the Egyptian city of Tanta.”

HASM is a terrorist group that is also active in Egypt, according to the State Department. “Formed in 2015, the group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Egyptian National Security Agency officer Ibrahim Azzazy, as well as the attempted assassination of Egypt’s former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. HASM also claimed responsibility for a September 30, 2017 attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo. Some of the leaders of the violent splinter groups, Liwa al-Thawra and Hasm, were previously associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.”

Christopher Sparks is a veteran journalist who has worked for metropolitan and community newspapers in New York City, Washington, D.C., upstate New York and Florida. 

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