U.S. State Dep’t Designates Hamas Official, Syrian Insurgent as Terrorists

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Palestinian senior Hamas official, Fathi Hammad, speaks to the Associated Press reporter during an interview in his house in town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. The State Department named Hammad, 55, to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists on Friday, saying he used his position as a minister to coordinate terrorist cells. In 2006, Hammad established Al-Aqsa satellite channel, which the state department said was Hamas' prime mouthpiece that sought recruiting children into future suicide bombers. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian senior Hamas official, Fathi Hammad, speaks to the Associated Press reporter during an interview in his house in town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Sept. 17. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

The State Department said on Friday it had designated the leader of a group of French foreign fighters in Syria and a senior Hamas official as specially designated global terrorists, a move that freezes their U.S. assets.

The State Department described the first man, Omar Diaby, as the leader of a group of about 50 foreign terrorists in Syria that has taken part in terrorist operations with Nusra Front, an insurgent group that has renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

The second man, identified as Fathi Ahmad Mohammad Hammad, is a former Hamas interior minister, a position he used to coordinate terrorist cells, the department said in a separate statement.

Hammad is a member of the political leadership of Hamas, an Islamist terror group that has controlled Gaza since 2007.

In a statement issued in Gaza, Hammad said the decision to list him as a terrorist came hours after Washington announced $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade, a step that he said made the United States “the biggest supporter of Zionist terrorism.”

“Such decisions that are biased in favor of the occupation represent a new black chapter in the record of the … American administration,” he said.