The United States has added Political Bureau of Hamas leader Ismail Haniya and three groups onto its blacklist of specially designated global terrorists, a move it says will prevent them accessing resources to conduct acts of terror.

Haniyeh has close links with Hamas’ military wing and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians, said the US Department of State.

“Among other consequences, all of their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.”

The US has already designed Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

It also designated Harakat al-Sabireen, an Iranian backed group operating primarily in Gaza and the West Bank, which it accused of carrying out activities targeting Israel and pursuing an anti-American agenda.

Liwa al-Thawra, a group active in the Qalyubia and Monofeya governorates of Egypt, was also designated.

“After announcing its formation in August 2016, the group claimed responsibility for the October 2016 assassination of brigadier general Adel Ragai, commander of the Egyptian army’s Ninth Armored Division,” the Department of State said.

HASM, a group also active in Egypt, was also sanctioned. The US said the group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Egyptian National Security Agency officer Ibrahim Azzazy, and also claimed responsibility for a September 30, 2017 attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo.

In response, Hamas said it condemned the US decision and that Haniya is a “Palestinian legislative council member … elected by most of Palestinians.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “these designations target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran – who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel. Today’s actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities.”

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