In November 2021, the United Kingdom took the long overdue step of recognizing the entirety of the Palestinian Arab group HAMAS to be a terrorist organization. In making the decision to mark the ‘political wing’ as no different than its ‘military wing,’ British Home Secretary Priti Patel said “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic” and that the group has “significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.“
This has long been plain to see for anyone who read the group’s foundational charter which includes such noxious declarations as “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious” and “In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised“, “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people,” and “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”
The immediate ramification of the British action is to make it illegal to be a member of Hamas or to express support for the group, including by flying its flag or wearing a T-shirt to that end. The maximum penalty would be 14 years in prison.
But the impact should have much greater consequences.
By recognizing that the entirety of Hamas is a rabidly antisemitic terrorist group, it marks the Gaza Strip, which is administered by Hamas, as a terrorist enclave. It is a new term that needs to be properly institutionalized as an expansion of established governmental terms like Foreign Terrorist Organizations, State Sponsors of Terrorism and Terrorist Safe Havens.
The United States had long ago marked Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), along with other Palestinian groups operating out of Gaza including the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC). The list of Palestinian Arab groups hell-bent on killing Jews is long and the designation enabled the government to block funding of such terrorists and to block their assets with EO 13224 of 2001. Subsequent amendments to that executive order limited the travel of members of these groups, and enabled monitoring agencies to track their activities with the support of numerous western countries including the United Kingdom, Australia and Switzerland.
The U.S. State Department similarly maintains a list of countries which are State Sponsors of Terrorism, including Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria. These countries are subject to a variety of sanctions.
State also recognized the threat of terrorist safe havens in its reports which defined them as “ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed areas of a country and non-physical areas where terrorists that constitute a threat to U.S. national security interests are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both.” These locations enable terrorist to operate freely, threatening civilized society at any time they choose.
In summary, the U.S. government identifies terrorists, countries that support terrorists, and areas that enable terrorists to flourish. But Gaza, governed by Hamas (an FTO) and supported by a state sponsor of terrorism (Iran), doesn’t exactly mean the criteria of a “terrorist safe haven” because it HAS the political will and directive to commit terrorism. As such, it sets a new low water market in depravity and requires a new category designation: a terrorist enclave.
Actions Against Terrorist Locations
The U.S. State Department developed “Long-term Programs and Initiatives Designed to Counter Terrorist Safe Havens and Recruitment.” Its stated goals include “protecting the United States, our interests, and our allies by reducing the ability of terrorists to radicalize, recruit, mobilize, and inspire acts of terrorism.” But the department has been seemingly tepid in taking forceful actions.
In response, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) produced a plan in 2011 as it noted that the State Department had “multiple reporting requirements,” but failed to provide a “list of its efforts to address terrorist safe havens.” Therefore, the GAO took the important step to “identif[y] eliminating safe havens as a priority action against which all elements of national power – including military, diplomatic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement – should be applied.”
The United States has long understood that Hamas is a terrorist group supported by state sponsors of terrorism. It is therefore past time to label the Hamas fiefdom of Gaza as a terrorist enclave, and to develop a comprehensive set of actions against this noxious hotbed of extremists.