On November 14, the United States and Britain sanctioned the leadership of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as mechanisms used by Iran to support the militant groups. “Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. The move, coordinated with Britain, came in response to the brutal Hamas-led terrorist attack on Israel on October 7 that killed some 1,200 Israelis. The two countries sought to undermine the mechanisms that Iran used to finance the two Palestinian militant groups. Iran has armed, trained and funded Hamas and PIJ since the late 1980s.
“Hamas’s actions have caused immense suffering and shown that terrorism does not occur in isolation,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said. “Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts.”
The Treasury Department designated the following individuals and company:
- Nasser Abu Sharif: PIJ representative in Iran
- Muhjat Al-Quds Foundation: Iran-funded organization that financed PIJ
- Jamil Yusuf Ahmad ‘Aliyan: PIJ official who distributed Iranian funds
- Akram al-Ajouri: Damascus-based Deputy Secretary General of PIJ and leader of the Al-Quds Brigades
- Nabil Chouman & Co: Lebanon-based money exchange company that supported Hamas
- Nabil Khaled Halil Chouman and son Khaled Chouman: Lebanon-based money exchangers
- Reda Ali Khamis: Lebanon-based money exchanger
- Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar: Senior member and co-founder of Hamas
- Mu’ad Ibrahim Muhammed Rashid al-Atili: Hamas official
The Biden administration has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Hamas since the October 7 attack. As of October 2023, the Treasury had sanctioned nearly 1,000 individuals and entities connected to terrorism and terrorist financing by Iran and its proxies, including Hamas and PIJ. The following are statements from the U.S. Treasury and the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office on the new sanctions.
Today, U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed its third round of sanctions targeting Hamas-affiliated individuals and entities since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. This action designates key Hamas officials and the mechanisms by which Iran provides support to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Today’s designations are coordinated with action by the U.K. and are aimed at protecting the international financial system from abuse by Hamas and their enablers. The U.S. Department of State is concurrently designating a leader of PIJ’s military wing.
“The United States will continue to work with our partners, including the U.K., to deny Hamas the ability to raise and use funds to carry out its atrocities,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “Hamas’s actions have caused immense suffering and shown that terrorism does not occur in isolation. Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts.”
This action builds on OFAC’s recent October 27 and October 18 designations of Hamas operatives and financial facilitators, as well as its May 2022 designation of officials and companies involved in managing Hamas’s secret international investment portfolio. These persons are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups and their supporters.
IRANIAN SUPPORT TO PALESTINIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD
Iranian support, primarily through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has enabled Hamas’s and PIJ’s terrorist activities, to include the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial assistance and the furnishing of both weapons and operational training.
Nasser Abu Sharif serves as the PIJ representative to Iran, the group’s primary financier. Iran’s IRGC has trained PIJ fighters to build and develop missiles in Gaza.
PIJ’s financial activities have been carried out through the Muhjat AlQuds Foundation in Gaza, a PIJ-run, Iran-funded organization whose primary mission is to provide financial support to the families of PIJ fighters and prisoners. Hamas financial facilitators have assisted PIJ in laundering money from outside of Gaza for eventual transfer to the Muhjat AlQuds Foundation. The Muhjat AlQuds Foundation is led by PIJ political official Jamil Yusuf Ahmad ‘Aliyan, who has distributed Iranian provided funds to PIJ personnel in Gaza. ‘Aliyan, who has served on PIJ’s executive committee, has overseen PIJ finances as it relates to important group logistics.
Nasser Abu Sharif and Jamil Yusuf Ahmad ‘Aliyan are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, PIJ. The Muhjat AlQuds Foundation is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, PIJ.
Additionally, today, the Department of State designated Akram al-Ajouri (Ajouri), the Damascus-based Deputy Secretary General of PIJ and leader of the Al-Quds Brigades, PIJ’s militant wing. Ajouri coordinated the militant training and recruitment operations for PIJ in Gaza, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, and Yemen. Ajouri is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for being a leader of PIJ.
Hamas uses the Lebanon-based money exchange company Nabil Chouman & Co (Chouman) to transfer money from Iran to Gaza. For several years, the company has served as a conduit for transferring funds to Hamas, transferring tens of millions of dollars to the terrorist organization. Chouman owner and founder Nabil Khaled Halil Chouman, together with his son Khaled Chouman and another Lebanon-based money exchanger Reda Ali Khamis (Khamis) worked with Hamed Ahmed al-Khudari (Khudari). Khudari was a member of Hamas and its militant wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and a prominent money exchanger for the group until his death in 2019. Khamis was involved in facilitating financial transfers from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hamas as well as PIJ in Gaza, and was responsible for the transfer of more than $7 million from the IRGC-QF to Hamas.
Nabil Chouman & Co, Nabil Khaled Halil Chouman, Khaled Chouman, and Reda Ali Khamis are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hamas.
KEY HAMAS OFFICIALS
Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar (Zahhar) is a senior member and co-founder of Hamas who has worked closely with Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Zahhar has spoken publicly on behalf of Hamas, including in formal interviews, to threaten violence against Jewish civilians and emphasize its commitment to the destruction of Israel. As a Hamas representative, Zahhar has also acknowledged and thanked Iran for its support of Hamas.
Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Hamas.
Additionally, Mu’ad Ibrahim Muhammed Rashid al-Atili is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Hamas.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.
In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 here. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.
Treasury remains committed to enabling the flow of legitimate humanitarian assistance supporting the basic human needs of vulnerable populations, while continuing to deny resources to terrorists and other malicious actors. Accordingly, OFAC sanctions programs contain provisions for legitimate humanitarian support to vulnerable populations, including authorizations for certain humanitarian transactions in support of nongovernmental organizations’ activities to ensure legitimate support is reaching the intended recipients. For more information, please review relevant authorizations and guidance on OFAC’s website.
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Statement
The UK and US have targeted Hamas with a new tranche of sanctions today, restricting the terror group’s ability to operate.
- sanctions on Hamas leadership to include travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargoes
- package is co-ordinated with US and set to disrupt Hamas operations both in Gaza and wherever their leaders base themselves
- Foreign Secretary declares UK “stands in solidarity” with the Palestinian people caught up in the crisis and calls on all parties to agree to humanitarian pauses to allow lifesaving aid into Gaza
The UK’s sanctions are against 4 Hamas senior leaders and 2 Hamas financiers. The stringent measures have been placed on Hamas’ leadership in an effort to disrupt the group’s acts of terror.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ political leader in Gaza, is among individuals from the group’s political and military wings targeted by today’s UK sanctions. He is reported to have been involved in the brutal attacks on Israel last month.
Also designated is Muhammed Deif, commander of the group’s military arm.
The sanctions show that the terror group’s leaders cannot escape the consequences of their actions, even if they are pulling the strings from outside of Gaza. Those covered include a Lebanon-based financier and money launderer in Sudan.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron said:
We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt the abhorrent activity of this terrorist organisation, working with the United States and our other allies, making it harder for them to operate and isolating them on the world stage.
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.
All those sanctioned by the UK and US were targeted for their leadership or financing roles in the group, which was originally founded in the late 1980s with a commitment to destroy Israel. These designations add to existing UK sanctions against Hamas, including on the organisation itself.
Those now subject to UK travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargoes, which prohibit the sale of weapons and military equipment by a UK person to the designated person, include:
- Yahya Sinwar: Sinwar is a senior leader of Hamas and the group’s political leader in Gaza
- Muhammed Deif: Deif is a senior leader of Hamas and is the commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), the military arm of Hamas, who announced the October 2023 terrorist attacks
- Marwan Issa: Issa is a senior leader of Hamas and is the deputy commander of the IQB
- Musa Dudin: Dudin is a West Bank-based Hamas official who has procured weaponry for the group, enabling them to commit acts of terrorism
- Abdelbasit Hamza: Hamza is a Sudan-based Hamas financier who owned a network of companies that laundered money and traded in currency in order to finance Hamas
- Nabil Chouman: Chouman has channelled funds to Hamas through his Lebanon-based currency exchange
The UK and the US stand united in their solidarity with Israel in its fight against Hamas. We continue to use our diplomatic efforts to support a two-state solution to provide justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, including through the Prime Minister’s recent visits to the region to speak with their counterparts.
The Prime Minister has called on all parties to allow the humanitarian pauses necessary to allow more aid to enter Gaza and been clear that Israel’s forces must act within international law and stop extremist violence in the West Bank.