March 18, 2010
Treasury Designates Gaza-Based Business, Television Station for Hamas Ties
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated the Islamic National Bank (INB) of Gaza for being controlled by Hamas, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and for providing financial services to Hamas members and employees, including members of the organization's military wing. Treasury also today designated Al-Aqsa Television, a television station in Gaza financed and controlled by Hamas. Today's actions, taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224, freeze any assets INB or Al-Aqsa Television hold under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with these parties. Executive Order 13224 targets terrorists, terrorist organizations, persons owned or controlled by or acting for or on behalf of designated terrorists or terrorist organizations, and those providing financial, material, or technological support to designated terrorists or terrorist organizations, or for acts of terrorism.
"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 for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.
Hamas opened INB in Gaza City in April 2009 after more than two years of planning. Lacking a legal license from the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), Hamas officials "authorized" the opening of the institution and provided $20 million of the initial capital. The INB operates outside the legitimate financial system and is not in compliance with Palestinian Authority (PA) banking or securities regulations. The PA, the PMA and the Palestinian Capital Market Authority have publicly declared the business illegal and have issued public warnings to citizens against doing business with INB or buying its shares.
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. 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.
The INB's board of directors and its senior management consist of high-ranking and prominent Hamas activists, including the chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer, both of whom were appointed to their positions because of their connections with Hamas.
Also designated today is Al-Aqsa Television, a television station financed and controlled by Hamas. Al-Aqsa is a primary Hamas media outlet and 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," Levey said.
Hamas leadership raised the initial capital for the station shortly after the January 2006 Palestinian elections. At that time, donors contributed half a million dollars for the channel, which was to be headed by members of Hamas, and shortly thereafter, Hamas leaders negotiated broadcasting arrangements with a satellite television provider. As of late 2009, the Hamas headquarters in Damascus, Syria, allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars for Al-Aqsa TV's budget, and senior Hamas officials continued to control the station's operations.
Fathi Hammad, the former director of Al-Aqsa TV, currently serves as the Hamas interior minister in Gaza, is a former senior member of Hamas's military wing in Gaza, and as of 2007, was a member of the Hamas Shura Council. Hammad has supervised the construction of smuggling tunnels for Hamas and has encouraged the building and use of homemade weapons for use against Israel. In May 2009, Dr. Mahmud Abu-Daf replaced Hammad as the head of Al-Aqsa TV. Abu-Daf is a senior Hamas figure who served as a member of the Hamas Shura Council and Political Bureau.
Hamas, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist backed by Iran, has intentionally killed hundreds of civilians, including U.S. citizens. Its violent takeover of Gaza in 2007 has allowed continued rocket attacks against Israeli cities and civilians within range of the territory. As of this year, Hamas has continued to ignore demands from the international community to renounce violence and accept the other Quartet principles, including the recognition of Israel and a commitment to abide by past diplomatic agreements. Moreover, statements by Hamas leader Khaled Mish'al indicate that the group continues to produce and smuggle weapons into Gaza.
Name: Islamic National Bank of Gaza
AKA: Palestine Islamic National Bank
AKA: Islamic National Bank
AKA: National Islamic Bank
AKA: Islamic National Bank Company
AKA: National and Islamic Bank
Location 1: Gaza City, Gaza
Address 1: Al-Wandah Al-Yarmuk street junction
Location 2: Khan Yunis, Gaza
Registration Number: 563201581
Entity: Al-Aqsa TV
AKA: Siraj Al-Aqsa TV
AKA: Hamas TV
AKA: The Aqsa Lamp
AKA: Al-Aqsa Satellite Television
Location: Jabaliya, Gaza