The United States on Friday added a senior Hamas official, the Islamist group’s former interior minister Fathi Hamad, to its “global terrorist” list.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has already itself been proscribed by the United States as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
Under the new designation, US citizens and companies will be banned from doing business with Hamad and any property he holds in areas under US jurisdiction will be frozen.
According to the US State Department, which issued the designation, as interior minister Hamad used his position to “coordinate terrorist cells.”
The statement also said Hamad founded Al-Aqsa TV, “with programs designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”
Hamad is well-known as one of the most radical figures in Hamas today. He is suspected of a string of bombings near the houses of operative from the rival Fatah movement, and is thought to be in contact with Salafi organizations and Islamic State fighters in the Sinai Peninsula.
He is considered one of the strongest Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip, and often operates independently of the organization’s political branch.
Hamad was one of the central figures opposing reconciliation with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank. He also assists the terror group’s “West Bank branch,” both with funding and military instruction. “The West Bank branch” was founded by officials in Hamas’s military wing, and is comprised of former prisoners released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap that were deported to the Gaza Strip.
As part of his role in the Hamas government, Hamad was responsible for its security services in Gaza and is influential within the Hamas military wing.
Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel in December that Hamad was behind a Hamas terror cell uncovered by the Shin Bet domestic security agency in the West Bank. According to the Shin Bet, the cell in the Palestinian town of Abu Dis was planning suicide bombings and other attacks.
Avi Issacharoff and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report