Five arrested in US for financing Hamas

20 December 2002

Five men have been arrested in the US on charges of having financial dealings with a senior member of the Islamic movement Hamas, who has been officially designated a terrorist. They are employees of Texas computer firm Infocom, and have also been accused of exporting computers and parts to Syria and Libya without the required licences. One of them, vice-president of Infocom, Ghassan Elashi, used to be director of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which was shut down in December 2001 accused of being a front for Hamas. 'We will pursue the financiers of terror as aggressively as we pursue the thugs who do their dirty work,' said US attorney general John Ashcroft, announcing the arrests at a press conference.

Meanwhile in California about 500 mainly Iranian men have been detained after obeying a government order to register with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS). Under new rules brought in as part of Washington's domestic efforts to combat terrorism, immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria who have not been naturalised were ordered to present themselves to the INS by 16 December. Officials said that the detainees were being held for immigration violations and other offences, but the move sparked angry protests on the streets of Los Angeles. About 600,000 Iranians live in California, many who have been living there since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

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