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Three men -- Muhammad Hamid Khalil Salah, Abdelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar, and Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook have been indicted in connection with the terrorist organization Hamas. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says the three participated in a fifteen-year conspiracy in the U.S. and abroad to fund terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip:

“The individuals named in this indictment are alleged to have played a substantial role in financing and supporting international terrorism. They are alleged to be material supporters of a foreign terrorist organization, taking advantage of the freedoms of an open society to foster and finance acts of terror.”

Muhammad Hamid Khalil Salah and Abdelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar have been arrested. The third defendant, Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, is a fugitive living in Damascus, Syria.

One of the major sponsors of international terrorism, Hamas has publicly claimed credit for engaging in suicide bombings of Israeli military personnel and civilians as well as American and other foreign nationals in Israel and the West Bank. Attorney General Ashcroft says the defendants used bank accounts in the U.S. to launder millions of dollars for Hamas.

“The racketeering acts that the Hamas enterprise allegedly agreed to commit include multiple solicitations of first-degree murder; conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, and injure persons in a foreign country; material support of terrorism; hostage-taking; and money-laundering. Defendant Salah is also charged with providing material support -- including money and personnel -- to a terrorist organization.”

The arrests follow an indictment of the U.S.-based Holy Land Foundation, which is charged with hiding its financial support for Hamas behind the mantle of charitable activities.

These indictments send a clear message, says Attorney General Ashcroft. “There is no distinction,” he said, “between those who carry out terrorist attacks and those who knowingly finance terrorist attacks. The United States will ensure that both terrorists and their financiers meet the same certain justice.”