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CNN BREAKING NEWS

President Bush Moves to Freeze Hamas-Linked Assets

Aired August 22, 2003 - 13:09   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: The president right now is in Burbank, Washington. He's actually talking about salmon restoration, as he travels throughout that area. However, he's just now coming forward with some comments with regard to Hamas and that attack on those buses in Jerusalem just a number of days ago.
Our Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with the president.

Suzanne -- what's the latest word?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, in a clear sign that this administration is very serious about punishing Hamas for that Tuesday deadly attack in Israel, the president released a written statement just moments ago, saying that he has ordered the Treasury Department to block and freeze the assets of six top Hamas leaders; also to block and freeze the assets of five nongovernmental organizations that they have evidence contribute financially to Hamas.

Now, we have been told in this statement, and I will read it here, it says: "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 towards peace between Israel and the Palestinian people."

And I just spoke with Taylor Griffin (ph), who is the spokesperson for the Treasury Department, and he gave us the names of those six Hamas leaders. I can tell you, they are from all over the world. There are three based in Syria, two in Gaza and one in Lebanon. He also gave us additional information about some of those NGOs. There is one based in France, one in Switzerland, another in Britain, Austria and Lebanon.

Now, one of the key things here to note is that these leaders are political leaders of Hamas. It is a clear indication that this administration is not making a distinction between the political leaders of Hamas and their goals, and also the terrorists in the military wing of that organization.

A Treasury Department official is saying that that is important to note that this administration is looking at this organization in its entirety. They are not making a distinction between those political leaders. They do believe that they are also involved; also responsible for what happened on Tuesday -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you.

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