The US Treasury’s top terrorism financing official said on Thursday he had discussed with Turkish government officials his deep concerns about Palestinian militant group Hamas raising funds in Turkey and potentially breaking local laws, Reuters reported.
Turkey is “prominent” in Hamas fundraising schemes and the group is likely to take advantage of that as it seeks more cash amid its war with Israel, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said.
“We are profoundly concerned with Hamas’s ability to continue to fund raise and find financial support [here in Turkey] for potential future terrorist attacks,” Nelson told reporters in İstanbul between meetings with Turkish government officials and financial and business groups.
Unlike most of its Western allies and some Gulf states, Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist group and hosts some of its members.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called Hamas “liberators” and criticized Israel as a “terrorist state” over its bombardment of Gaza in recent weeks.
The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has sanctioned several Turkish entities and individuals in its effort to curb funding for Hamas following its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Nelson said Turkey was connected to Hamas’s past efforts to raise funds from donors, investment portfolios, charities and non-profit organizations.
Even if Turkey sees Hamas as legitimate, he said the group could still violate domestic laws, though he gave no specific example of this happening.
“There is sufficient opportunity for Turkey to address this problem under its own domestic legal authorities irrespective of US sanctions,” he said.
Nelson said Turkish officials had reminded him that Hamas was not a designated terrorist organization in the country but also that Turkey would not tolerate violations of domestic laws, including money-laundering and direct funding of violent acts.
Nelson also raised the prospect of more US sanctions on Turkish entities suspected of having helped Russia to continue illicit trade in banned goods.