US slaps sanctions on Hamas moneymen funding $500 million terror finance network

Treasury targets former and current manager of secret investment fund used to help Gaza-ruling terror group operate, as well as others involved in keeping it in the black

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

A Palestinian student in a Hamas shirt is tossed in the air during a rally supporting the group as they celebrate a victory in student elections at Birzeit University on the outskirts of Ramallah on May 19, 2022. (Abbas Momani/AFP)
A Palestinian student in a Hamas shirt is tossed in the air during a rally supporting the group as they celebrate a victory in student elections at Birzeit University on the outskirts of Ramallah on May 19, 2022. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

WASHINGTON — The US Treasury Department on Tuesday announced that it had sanctioned a Hamas official along with a network of backers of the terror group.

The network is overseen by Hamas’s Investment Office, which runs 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 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 added in a statement released by her office.

Hamas did not immediately issue a response to the US announcement.

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

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaks during a press conference after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, at the presidential palace, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, June 28, 2021. (Dalati Nohra/ Lebanese Official Government via AP)

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 was 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 of the Sudan-based Al Rowad Real Estate Development, and 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 have posed as legitimate businesses but are controlled by Hamas and transferred money to the group and its military wing, the Treasury Department said, justifying its decision to designate the two firms.

The US also 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 said.

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 added.

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