Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are racing to build a case against Hamas, which will likely focus on the group’s financial network, according to two people familiar with the case but not directly involved in it.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams has assigned dozens of lawyers and FBI agents to the projects, the latest in a long line of global forays from the high-powered Manhattan prosecutor’s office. It’s part of a broader Biden administration effort to press the Palestinian group on all fronts after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Hamas has bigger problems: The Israeli military is pounding Gaza to kill its leaders, killing thousands of civilians in the process, and Israel seems poised to spend years tracking down and and killing everyone involved in planning the Oct. 7 attack.
But the Southern District has a long history of involving itself in crimes against Americans overseas, prosecuting everyone from the Somali pirates who attacked the container ship featured in the film Captain Phillips to the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. They’ve also brought charges in high-profile global terrorism cases, including the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
And they may have rich pickings here. The New York Times reported Saturday that the Israeli government had obtained in 2018 details of a kind of “private equity fund” that Hamas used to finance its activities — but chose not to pursue it. Frustrated Israeli analysts later posted the details of the investments, including skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates and a publicly traded Turkish real estate firm, to Facebook.
A spokesman for the Southern District declined to comment on the investigation.