US Treasury building
US Treasury buildingUS Treasury website

The US Department of the Treasury on Thursday froze the US-based assets of Gaza-based Islamic National Bank and Al-Aqsa Television, which are controlled by Hamas. US citizens may no longer do business with either institution.

The Treasury Department explained that the Islamic National Bank (INB) is controlled by Hamas, which the US considers “a Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” and provides financial services to Hamas members and employees, including members of the organization's military wing.

“While posing as a legitimate financial institution, INB is providing Hamas with a means to receive and store large amounts of smuggled cash to use at the organization's discretion," the Treasury explained. "In May 2009, Hamas's finance office in Gaza moved 1.1 million Euros to INB, with which it then paid the salaries of members of Hamas's military wing who held accounts there.  Hamas has also opened thousands of accounts for its members at INB through which it pays salaries.”

Recruiting children

The Treasury said that Al-Aqsa Television in Gaza is a primary Hamas media outlet that airs “programs and music videos designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”

"Treasury will not distinguish between a business financed and controlled by a terrorist group, such as Al-Aqsa Television, and the terrorist group itself," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said.

Hamas headquarters in Damascus has allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars for Al-Aqsa TV's budget, and senior Hamas officials control the station's operations, according to the Treasury.

Fathi Hammad, the former director of Al-Aqsa TV, currently serves as the Hamas interior minister in Gaza and is a former senior member of Hamas's military wing in Gaza. Hammad has supervised the construction of smuggling tunnels for Hamas and has encouraged the building and use of homemade weapons for use against Israel. 

"Consistent with our commitment to a well-regulated and transparent financial system in the Palestinian territories, Treasury will continue to expose Hamas's efforts to create institutions with the trappings of legitimacy that are in fact controlled by and used to support a terrorist organization," said Under Secretary Levey.