U.S. adds Hamas to its terrorist list Militants in U.S. eyed more closely

February 02, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The FBI has stepped up its scrutiny of Muslim militants in the United States who are raising funds for the Palestinian Hamas organization, and the State Department has decided to add the group to its list of terrorist factions.

The FBI has confirmed that Hamas supporters engage in fund-raising and propaganda activities in the United States, but has found no evidence to support Israeli claims that the group's leadership exercises "command and control" from the Washington area, the officials said yesterday.

"There is fund-raising, propagandizing and publishing" in the United States, a State Department official said. "But the command and control of Hamas is still in the occupied territories" -- meaning the Israeli-controlled West Bank and Gaza Strip, where 2 million Palestinian Arabs make up most of the population.

The FBI has been monitoring Hamas supporters' activities in several areas, including Washington, Chicago, Detroit and Dallas, another official said.

It is not clear that any of the Hamas supporters' activities in the United States are illegal, one official said. Raising money expressly for terrorist acts is against the law, but raising money for Hamas' political or social programs is not.

Also yesterday, officials said the State Department planned to label Hamas officially as a "terrorist organization" in its annual report on terrorism, to be released in April.

Both the FBI and State Department moves came largely in response to information supplied by the Israeli government indicating that Hamas is becoming increasingly violent, the officials said.

But they added that the U.S. government began working on the issue several weeks ago, even before Israeli government officials began pressing publicly for more action.

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