The United States has designated Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, as a “global terrorist,” the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The State Department similarly designated three groups – two Muslim Brotherhood splinter groups, and one Iranian-backed group – as terrorists.
The announcement about Haniyeh was made by Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv. Sales said that Haniyeh is a “specially designated global terrorist,” meaning that any assets he has in the U.S. will be frozen and will prohibit U.S. citizens from doing business with him.
In a statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “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. Today’s actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities.”
Tillerson was referring to Haniyeh, under who Hamas has grown closer to Iran, and the group, Harakat al-Sabireen, which was formed in 2014 in Gaza and is backed by Iran.
Two other groups designated today, are Liwa al Thawra, and HASM, both of which are based in Egypt and are viewed as break-offs from the Muslim Brotherhood.
The designation of Liwa al Thawra and HASM shows that the Trump administration “is getting more aggressive against the Brotherhood’s violent affiliates,” Eli Lake reported for Bloomberg View.
Jonathan Schanzer, the senior vice president for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told Lake that the designation of Haniyeh showed “that the U.S. is signaling it does not see a difference between the political leadership in Gaza, the politburo and the military leadership.” The State Department’s statement explicitly accused Haniyeh of involvement in terror attacks against Israelis.
Another implication of Haniyeh’s designation is that it shows that the U.S. will not support unity efforts between Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas.
Despite widespread poverty in Gaza, Haniyeh is reputed to be quite wealthy, reportedly once shelling out $4 million for a beachfront property in Gaza.
[Photo: Mehmettorun / WikiCommons]