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12/23/02 - HAMAS FINANCIERS ARRESTED - 2002-12-26


U.S. authorities have indicted Mousa Abu Marzook [ah-boo mahr-zook], a senior leader of Hamas, and his wife for violating laws prohibiting fund raising for terrorist groups. Marzook and his wife are now fugitives.

Federal agents have arrested Ghassan Elashi [gah-sahn eh-lah-shee] and four of his brothers. They are charged with money laundering, making false statements, dealing in property with a designated terrorist -- Mousa Abu Marzook -- and selling computers to two state sponsors of terrorism, Libya and Syria.

The Elashi brothers are employees of the Texas-based INFOCOM Corporation. Ghassan Elashi is also the chairman of the Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas front group. Both INFOCOM and the Holy Land Foundation illegally received start-up money from Marzook.

In December 2001, the U.S. froze the assets and accounts of the Holy Land Foundation. The foundation claimed to be raising money for the humanitarian needs of Palestinians on the West Bank. Instead, it was also supporting Hamas programs to indoctrinate children into becoming suicide bombers. It was also financing the recruiting of suicide bombers and the support of their families.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks. And as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft pointed out, Hamas suicide bombings have killed twenty-four U.S. citizens. They include five Americans killed along with four Israelis in the bombing of Hebrew University in Jerusalem in July. As President George W. Bush said, "Hamas is an extremist group that calls for the total destruction of Israel. It is one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world today."

The U.S. and its allies in the global war on terrorism are determined to shut down the financial networks that support Hamas and other terrorist groups. As U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft said, "Terrorist money-men should know this: we are hunting down the murderers you support, and we will hunt you down. Just as we will prosecute the terrorist who plants a bomb, we will prosecute the terrorist supporter who writes a check. We will follow the money of terror. And we will pursue the financiers of terror as aggressively as we pursue the thugs who do their dirty work."

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