The United States sanctioned on Thursday four Iran-linked individuals for moving money from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The four were accused of being at the center of a criminal funding network, connecting the Iranian regime with Hamas’ military arm the al-Qassam Brigades via Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The US has designated both Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups.
Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy were sanctioned for providing support for Hamas. The US Treasury, in partnership with the Sultanate of Oman, sanctioned the four under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.
The US Treasury alleges that Beirut-based Sarur has played a central role as a middle-man transferring money from the IRGC – Quds Force (QF), also designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department, to the al-Qassam Brigades. The Treasury identified Sarur as “in charge of all money transfers” between the two organizations as of 2014, totaling tens of millions of dollars each year.
Awad has been sanctioned for his involvement in the same financial process, as well as other support for Hamas including giving the Hamas official Salih al-Aruri, who is also a US-designated terrorist, information regarding Hamas prisoners.
Al-Ayy and Nasser are both accused of working as financial facilitators to transfer funds to Hamas. Under EO 13224, the US prohibits any dealing with all four designated individuals or their property.
The sanctions come alongside sanctions against Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank SAL and its subsidiaries for allegedly facilitating the financial activities of Hezbollah and promoting suicide bombers as part of a wider Iranian terror network.
“The key to understanding these targets is their financial ties to Iran. To be clear: Hamas must be seen as an Iran proxy, just like Hezbollah, PIJ or Shiite militias,” said Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), in a tweet.
In addition to Jamaal Trust Bank, Treasury also hit four Hamas financiers. The key to understanding these targets is their financial ties to Iran. To be clear: Hamas must be seen as an Iran proxy, just like Hezbollah, PIJ or Shiite militias.
— Jonathan Schanzer (@JSchanzer) August 29, 2019
The FDD, Schanzer’s Washington-based think tank, has recently been the target of Iranian sanctions. Iran accuses the FDD of “trying to harm the Iranian people’s security and vital interests.”
The US has sanctioned the Iranian regime as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign, aimed at preventing Iran from continuing to support terrorist and proxy groups across the region. US sanctions include Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and eight military commanders of the IRGC.
On Wednesday the US imposed sanctions on two networks it says are linked to Iran’s government and military organizations.