The Department of State Tuesday designated Hamas operatives Yahya Sinwar, Rawhi Mushtaha and Muhammed Deif, and Hizbollah official Samir Kuntar as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.
The consequences of these designations include a prohibition against US persons engaging in transactions with the jihadists and the freezing of all their property and interests in the United States, or come within the UnitedStates or the possession or control of US persons.
“Sinwar is a Hamas operative known for his role in founding the forerunner of the Izzedine Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and SDGT,” the State Department announced.
Sinwar was arrested by Israel in 1988 for terrorist activity, but was released from prison in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Sinwar was serving four life sentences for the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers in the late 1980s.
The State Department said, “He is considered to be one of the most senior and prominent prisoners to be exchanged, and has called on militants to capture more Israeli soldiers.”
Mushtaha is a Hamas operative “known for his role in founding the forerunner of the Izzedine Al Qassam Brigades,” the State Department said. He, too, was arrested by Israel in 1988 for terrorist activity, but also was released from prison in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He was serving four life sentences for murder and acts of terrorism. In 2015, Mushtaha also publicly called on Hamas’s Al Qassam Brigades to kidnap more Israeli citizens in order to strike more prisoner exchange deals to free Hamas members.
Deif is the top commander of the Izzedine Al Qassam Brigades known for deploying suicide bombers and directing the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. During the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, Deif was the mastermind of Hamas’s offensive strategy.
The State Department also designated Lebanese born Samir Kuntar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
In April 1979, Kuntar participated in the attempted kidnapping of an Israeli family in Nahariya, Israel that resulted in the deaths of five Israelis, including two children. Kuntar was convicted in an Israeli court for the murders, but also was later released from prison in 2008 as part of a prisoner exchange.
“On his return to Lebanon, Kuntar was welcomed by Hizballah … andhe has since emerged as one of the group’s most visible and popular spokesmen,” the State Department said, noting that, “Since Kuntar’s return, he has also played an operational role, with the assistance of Iran and Syria, in building up Hizballah’s terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights.”
Photo: Yahya Sinwar, a Hamas operative known for his role in founding the forerunner of the Izzedine Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.