US sanctions target international network of Hamas bean-counters

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

The US Treasury Department announces that it has sanctioned a Hamas official along with a network of backers to the terror group.

The network is overseen by Hamas’s Investment Office, which manages the day-to-day management of more than $500 million in assets, including firms in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates. The targeted individuals are being sanctioned by the Treasury Department under a 2001 executive order that allows for the financial holdings of designated individuals or groups to be blocked in order to stem terror funding.

“Today’s action targets the individuals and companies that Hamas uses to conceal and launder funds,” says Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg while in Israel to discuss terrorism financing efforts.

“Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions. Hamas maintains a violent agenda that harms both Israelis and Palestinians. The United States is committed to denying Hamas the ability to generate and move funds and to holding Hamas accountable for its role in promoting and carrying out violence in the region,” she adds in a statement released by her office.

The list of sanctioned individuals includes Ahmed Sharif Abdallah Odeh, a Jordanian national who officially headed Hamas’s international investment portfolio until 2017 but remained involved even after stepping down from the post.

He was replaced by Usama Ali, who in 2019 was appointed to Hamas’s Shura Council — a quasi-legislative branch and he later served on Hamas’s Executive Committee, maintaining direct contact with Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh, the bureau’s deputy Saleh al-Arouri and others.

Also designated is Hisham Younis Yahia Qafisheh, a Turkish based Jordanian national who served as Usama Ali’s deputy and was involved in transferring funds on behalf of various companies linked to Hamas’s investment portfolio.

Qafisheh has served as a board member at the Sudan-based Agrogate Holding, deputy board chair at the Turkey-based Trend GYO, board chair Sudan-based Al Rowad Real Estate Development, manager at the Saudi real estate firm Anda Company. All four firms have been designated by the Treasury as well.

Hamas’s investment office also covertly held assets in the Algeria-based Sidar Company and the UAE-based Itqan Real Estate JSC, which posed as legitimate businesses but were controlled by Hamas and transferred money to the group and its military wing, the Treasury Department says, justifying its decision to designate the two firms.

Lastly, the US has designated Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, a Kuwait-based Jordanian accountant who has worked in the Hamas Finance Ministry for several years.

“Since at least 2018, Sabri has managed Hamas’s operational expenses and oversaw the transfer of large sums of money on behalf of Hamas, including transfers from Iran and Saudi Arabia, which he sent to Hamas members, units, and industries,” the Treasury says.

In 2018, Sabri was appointed chair of a key financial committee that likely made him privy to the terror group’s financial planning, investment projects and sources of income, the Treasury says.

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