The Treasury Department announced Thursday that it designated two Lebanese-based charities which help fund Hamas.
Al-Waqfiya Al-Ri'aya Al-Usra Al-Filistinya Al-Lubnanya and the Al-Quds International Foundation, both Beirut based, were targeted by the designation, which makes it illegal for people in the United States from doing any business with them. The groups are controlled by Hamas and raise money for relatives of Hamas terrorists and prisoners, along with other projects in the Palestinian territories aimed at boosting Hamas's standing.
Al-Waqfiya is described as "a central component of the Union of Good" in the Treasury announcement. The Union of Good was designated in 2008 and is led by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian.
"The Treasury Department will continue to work to disrupt Hamas's efforts to radicalize vulnerable communities and undermine regional stability," said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. "Today's action represents another step in our effort to ensure that charitable fronts are not used to finance terrorism."
The designation comes amid difficult times for Hamas. A Washington Times column notes that its cause is being lost amid Arab Spring activity, especially the bloody battle for control of Syria. By siding with opposition leaders against dictator Bashar al-Assad, who along with his late father have allowed Hamas to operate out of Damascus, the group has alienated some supporters, including Iran which has financed Hamas for years.
And Human Rights Watch issued a 43-page report Wednesday detailing a pattern of abuse and torture of prisoners in Hamas custody in Gaza, "including arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, torture, and unfair trials." Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, "executed at least three men convicted on the basis of 'confessions' apparently obtained under torture," a Human Rights Watch release said.
There were 147 complaints of torture by Hamas police agencies last year alone.
Human Rights Watch called on the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood – Hamas's parent organization – to rein in the abuse.
"There is ample evidence that Hamas security services are torturing people in custody with impunity and denying prisoners their rights," said Joe Stork, the group's deputy Middle East director. "The Gaza authorities should stop ignoring the abuse and ensure that the justice system respects Palestinians' rights."