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U.S. Treasury Targets Hamas Investment Portfolio With Sanctions

The U.S. governmental body announces the designation of a Hamas finance official, along with a network of three Hamas financial facilitators and six companies.
U.S. Department of Treasury headquarters in Washington, D.C. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
U.S. Department of Treasury headquarters in Washington, D.C. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Days after sanctioning a Lebanese businessman and his network for funding the Hamas terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, the U.S. Treasury Department announced similar measures on Tuesday, targeting several Jordanian nationals.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Ahmed Sharif Abdallah Odeh, who it says was in charge of the day-to-day management of Hamas’s international investment portfolio until 2017 and continued after his departure to oversee the office on behalf of Hamas’s Shura Council. Treasury alleges that Odeh “regularly met with senior Hamas officials, gave presentations about the portfolio’s business activities, and coordinated financial transfers on behalf of the group.”

Hamas’s Investment Office held assets estimated to be worth more than $500 million and included holdings associated with companies in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, according to Treasury. The Shura Council and Hamas executive committee exercise control of its investment portfolio with the Hamas investment office overseeing day-to-day operations.

Usama Ali, who assumed control of the investment office upon Odeh’s departure, was also sanctioned by Treasury on Tuesday. The announcement also claims that Ali is a Hamas operative and Shura Council member, and served on the executive committee, maintaining contact with senior Hamas leaders, including Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh.

Treasury also sanctioned Turkey-based Jordanian national Hisham Younis Yahia Qafisheh, who served as Ali’s deputy. Four of Qafisheh’s companies, including those in Sudan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, were also designated.

Additionally, Treasury announced sanctions on Algeria-based Sidar Company and UAE-based Itqan Real Estate JSC, both of which appeared to operate as legitimate businesses but in practice, Treasury says, were controlled by Hamas and transferred money to the group, including a significant portion to Hamas’ military arm, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.

Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, a Kuwait-based Jordanian national and accountant who has worked in the Hamas Finance Ministry for several years, was also on the list of those sanctioned. Sabri is alleged to play an important role in expanding the terror group’s reach in the region, with key knowledge of its financial planning, investments, income sources and expenditures.

“Today’s action targets the individuals and companies that Hamas uses to conceal and launder funds,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg, assistant secretary of the treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes, while in Israel to discuss counter-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.”

The designations will result in all property and interests in property, and all businesses owned directly, indirectly or partially by the individuals named being blocked and reported to OFAC.

All transactions between individuals in the United States and entities designated would also be prohibited.

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