08/22 - Bush administration freezes assets of 5 groups - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

08/22 - Bush administration freezes assets of 5 groups

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Posted: Friday, August 22, 2003 11:28 am | Updated: 1:12 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

BURBANK, Wash. - The Bush administration on Friday froze the assets of five European-based organizations it says raise money for the radical Palestinian group Hamas.

President Bush said he was taking the action because Hamas claimed responsibility for Tuesday's suicide attack on a packed bus in Jerusalem that killed 20 people, including six children.

The move, being carried out by the Treasury Department, also targets six top Hamas leaders.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was the first effort to block Hamas' assets or funding sources outside the United States. Similar action has been taken worldwide against al-Qaida and other terrorist networks, however.

The Jerusalem bombing prompted a new round of Mideast violence.

"Hamas has reaffirmed that it is a terrorist organization committed to violence against Israelis and to undermining progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinian people," said Bush, who stopped here for an event about his salmon restoration policies during a two-day trip through the Pacific Northwest.

Bush called on "all nations supportive of peace in the Middle East" to recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization and to join the United States in freezing the groups' funds.

The official said several European countries appear supportive of the asset freeze, but that the administration was waiting to see the official response.

The White House also reacted cautiously Friday to the promised Israeli campaign against militant chiefs.

"Our focus is on getting the parties back together so they can work to resolve these issues," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said. "We've always said that Israel has the right to defend herself. We also always pointed out that the parties, including Israel, need to keep in mind the consequence of the actions that they take - the effect of those actions on the peace process."

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