U.S. freezes assets of Hamas leaders, charities
BURBANK, Washington (CNN) -- President Bush took new action against Hamas on Friday, designating six of its leaders and five European charities that the United States believes support the militant group as "specially designated global terrorists."
The move freezes any assets that those named might have in the United States and prohibits U.S. nationals from conducting transactions with them, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
The decision was triggered by the bombing of a bus in Jerusalem on Tuesday that killed 20, including six children, and wounded 136. Five of those killed were U.S. citizens.
In response, Israel fired missiles into a car carrying senior Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab in Gaza City, killing him and two bodyguards. Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated at Abu Shanab's funeral Friday, saying the so-called "road map" to peace is at an end. (Full story)
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian Islamic militant group, each claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.
"By claiming responsibility for the despicable act of terror on August 19, Hamas has reaffirmed that it is a terrorist organization committed to violence against Israelis and to undermining progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinian people," Bush said in a written statement.
"I call upon all nations supportive of peace in the Middle East to recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization and to take all appropriate actions to deny it support."
The United States previously had designated Hamas, along with other Palestinian Islamic militant groups, a terrorist organization, which froze assets held by the group. Thursday's action extends those sanctions to the individuals and organizations named.
In listing the European charities, Bush furthered his effort to stop the flow of funding from other countries.
Hamas' military wing has acknowledged attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, but the group also operates charities and social services in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian officials draw a distinction between the militant wing and Hamas as a whole -- a distinction the United States rejects.
"Hamas' leaders and those who provide their funding again have the blood of innocents on their hands," said U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow. "As they resist the road map for peace, Hamas is devastating the dreams of the Palestinian people for freedom, prosperity and an independent state."
The charities named Friday, he said, "provide support to Hamas and form part of its funding network in Europe."
The U.S. Treasury Department listed the Hamas leaders as:
• Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas in Gaza
• Imad Khalil Al-Alami, a member of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, Syria
• Usama Hamdan, a senior Hamas leader in Lebanon
• Khalid Mishaal, head of the Hamas political bureau and executive committee in Damascus
• Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chief of the political bureau in Syria
• Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader in Gaza who reports to Sheik Yassin
The Treasury Department listed these charities:
• Comite de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), of France
• The Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP), of Switzerland, an organization related to CBSP
• The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, or Interpal, headquartered in Britain
• The Palestinian Association in Austria, PVOE
• The Sanabil Association for Relief and Development, based in Lebanon