US imposes sanctions on Hamas officials involved in drone and cyber operations

Punitive economic measures name militant group leaders in Gaza and Lebanon

A drone deployed in Ukraine. Hamas is accused of using 'unmanned aerial vehicles to facilitate terrorist violence across multiple fronts'. Reuters
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The US took aim at Hamas’s cyber and drone operations with a set of terrorism-related economic measures on Friday, imposing sanctions on four of the group's members based in Gaza and Lebanon.

“Today’s joint action reinforces our continued, collective focus on disrupting Hamas’s ability to conduct further attacks, including through cyber warfare and the production of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones],” Brian Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said.

The sanctions name Hudhayfa Samir Abdallah Al Kahlut, spokesman for Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas in Gaza, William Abu Shanab, Lebanon-based commander of Al Shimali unit, Bara’a Hasan Farhat, Mr Abu Shanab’s assistant and Khalil Muhammad Azzam, an intelligence officer.

Al Shimali unit “manages projects for the development and production of automatic 120mm mortars, mobile launchers for Grad rockets, development and production of flight simulators, UAVs for intelligence gathering and suicide UAVs”, the Treasury Department said.

“The unit’s hundreds of operatives are trained on a range of skill sets to support Hamas terrorist operations, including urban warfare, UAV pilot training, aeronautics, naval diving and intelligence gathering.”

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller added that Hamas has “used information warfare and unmanned aerial vehicles to facilitate terrorist violence across multiple fronts”.

Under the sanctions, any property or interests held in the US by the four people will be blocked and reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Non-US financial institutions that engage with those named in the measures risk having sanctions imposed as well.

The US has issued several rounds of sanctions against Hamas members and their supporters since last October, when the group carried out an attack against Israel that killed about 1,200 people, according to local tallies, and led to the war in Gaza.

Updated: April 12, 2024, 4:57 PM