US, UK sanction terror financiers tied to Oct. 7 massacre, Iran

Washington’s sanctions are third round since war erupted, as it aims to build international coalition to tackle Hamas’s funding, much of which comes from Islamic Republic

Palestinian members of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas terror group in Gaza City, September 21, 2022. (Attia Muhammed/Flash90)
File: Palestinian members of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas terror group in Gaza City, September 21, 2022. (Attia Muhammed/Flash90)

The United States on Tuesday announced a third round of sanctions along with the United Kingdom, targeting Hamas-affiliated individuals and entities in connection with the October 7 massacre in Israel.

The measures target “key Hamas officials and the mechanisms by which Iran provides support to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” another terror group operating in the Gaza Strip, the US Treasury Department said.

The terrorists rampaged across southern communities on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in their homes and at a music festival, and abducting at least 240 people to the Gaza Strip. Israel subsequently declared war on Hamas, vowing to eliminate its military infrastructure and government in the enclave.

The US Department of State designated Akram al-Ajouri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for being a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group.

Ajouri is the PIJ deputy secretary general and leader of its Al-Quds Brigade military wing.

The US Treasury Department also designated seven individuals and two entities that have provided support to or acted on behalf of Hamas or PIJ, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s representative to Iran, Nasser Abu Sharif, as well as a Lebanon-based money exchange, Nabil Chouman & Co, that allegedly handles transfers between Hamas and Tehran.

“Iran’s support, primarily through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, enables Hamas and PIJ’s terrorist activities, including through the transfer of funds and the provision of both weapons and operational training. Iran has trained PIJ fighters to produce and develop missiles in Gaza while also funding groups that provide financial support to PIJ-affiliated fighters,” the State Department said, adding that the actions are being taken in coordination with the United Kingdom “to protect the international financial system from abuse by Hamas and its enablers.”

The British sanctions also announced Tuesday targeted four senior Hamas leaders and two financiers.

“The Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too. We stand in solidarity with them and will continue to support humanitarian pauses to allow significantly more lifesaving aid to reach Gaza,” new British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said.

Last month, the US announced it was aiming to build an international coalition to target the financing of Hamas.

According to the US Treasury, the Palestinian terror group’s global asset holdings are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The United States will continue to work with our partners, including the UK, to deny Hamas the ability to raise and use funds to carry out its atrocities,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

Most of the international funding for the Gazan terror groups comes from Iran, which has sponsored Hamas with some $100 million annually and the PIJ to the tune of tens of millions, according to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

File: Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, left, meets with Ismail Haniyeh, one of the Hamas leaders, in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 14, 2023. (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)

Hamas has also received over $1.5 billion in disbursements from Qatar over the past decade. The funds are officially aimed at covering salaries for public workers, fuel purchases, and transfers to poor families, but the terror group deducts part of the payments and keeps it for its own operations.

The White House has said it has yet to uncover information that Iran, the principal financial and military sponsor of Hamas, was directly involved in the multipronged Hamas operation against Israel.

However, the US has conducted three strikes over the last two weeks against Iranian-tied weapons depots in Syria to retaliate for the more than 50 rocket and drone attacks that militant groups have launched since October 7 against US bases in Iraq and Syria, which have caused dozens of minor injuries among US personnel.

US President Joe Biden and other officials in his Democratic administration have traveled to the Middle East to show support for Israel and have tried to tamp down tensions in the escalating war between Israel and Hamas, efforts that have faced significant setbacks.

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