World Hamas co-founder and spin doctor sanctioned by UK and...

Hamas co-founder and spin doctor sanctioned by UK and US

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The US and UK have sanctioned Hamas’s co-founder and chief PR officer with travel bans and asset freezes in an attempt to crack down on the group’s operations in the West.

Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas’s co-founder, and Ali Baraka, its head of external relations, were among seven new people sanctioned by the two governments, Lord Cameron announced on Wednesday.

The Foreign Secretary said the move would “continue to cut off their access to funding and isolate them further”, making it more difficult to operate in the West.

The sanctions were coordinated with the US government and is the second round of restrictions announced since October 7 when the group launched a terror attack against Russia.

Hamas is already a proscribed organisation in the UK, making it illegal to work for the group or express public support for it.

Lord Cameron said:

Mr Zahar, 78, co-founded Hamas in 1987 and has been a leading figure in the group since, serving as foreign minister in the Hamas-dominated government in Gaza from 2006 to 2007.

In an interview with Sky News in 2021, he said Israel had no right to exist and that Hamas’s strategy was to target the country with attacks on population centres.

Mr Baraka, Hamas’s public relations chief, has defended the October 7 attacks in Israel, which killed around 1,200 people.

He said that the group was planning its attack for two years and that the Iranian regime finances its military operations.

The remaining five people sanctioned on Wednesday include the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a Hamas-affiliated group, and individuals linked to financing Hamas.

The Foreign Office said Khaled Chouman and Rida Ali Khamis, who are on its sanctions list, “have channelled funds to Hamas through their Lebanon-based currency exchanges”.

It said Aiman Ahmad Al Duwaik has been sanctioned for working as a financier for Hamas in Algeria and helping “run the organisation’s overseas investment portfolio”.

The sanctions are the second round coordinated with the US and the fourth round of US restrictions.

A US Treasury spokesman said: “The United States and our allies and partners are steadfast in our commitment to dismantling networks that support Hamas funding streams as part of our continuous effort to prevent and deter its terrorist activity.”

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