U.S. Freezes Assets of Group Linked to Hamas

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The government ordered U.S banks on Thursday to block any financial assets belonging to Al-Aqsa Foundation (search), a group it suspects of bankrolling terrorist activities.

The action was taken by theTreasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (search), and comes on the same day the British government ordered financial institutions there to freeze the same foundation's assets.

The foundation is suspected of funneling money to Hamas, the Islamic militant group, a U.S. government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. blocking order posted on OFAC's Web site said the foundation has offices in countries including Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Pakistan. The foundation's office in Aachen, Germany, is believed to be the foundation's main location, the U.S. official said.

The blocking orders marks the latest move by the Bush administration to financially paralyze terrorist financiers, a key component of President's Bush war on terror.

It was not immediately known whether the foundation has any assets in the United States. The process of checking bank accounts usually takes around a week.

The U.S. had few details on the foundation.

However, Paul Wilkinson, chairman of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University in Scotland, said the group is a Palestinian support organization that helps fund suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza strip.

"Recent terrorist atrocities in Saudi Arabia and Morocco show that we must remain constantly vigilant and bear down on terrorism and the people who fund it," Britain's Treasury chief Gordon Brown (search) said in a statement Thursday.