U.S. designates Syria insurgent, Hamas official as terrorists

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Friday it had designated the leader of a group of French foreign fighters in Syria and a senior Hamas official as specially designated global terrorists, a move that freezes their U.S. assets.

The State Department described the first man, Omar Diaby, as the leader of a group of about 50 foreign fighters in Syria that has taken part in terrorist operations with Nusra Front, an insurgent group that has renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

The second man, identified as Fathi Ahmad Mohammad Hammad, is a former Hamas interior minister, a position he used to coordinate terrorist cells, the department said in a separate statement.

Hammad is a member of the political leadership of Hamas, an Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2007. Israel in 2005 withdrew settlers and soldiers from Gaza, which it had seized along with the West Bank in a 1967 war.

In a statement issued in Gaza, Hammad said the decision to list him as a terrorist came hours after Washington announced $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade, a step that he said made the United States “the biggest supporter of Zionist terrorism.”

“Such decisions that are biased in favor of the occupation represent a new black chapter in the record of the ... American administration,” he said.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler