Terror Attacks Prompt Renewed Interest in State Department Docs Showing Funding Would Benefit Hamas
- October 17, 2023
Revelation of State Department attempts to skirt law spark pushback on funding that could aid terrorists
In the wake of the massive Hamas terror attacks in Israel on October 7, media outlets are again discussing State Department documents obtained by Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT). Those communications, the subject of a Washington Free Beacon story in August, revealed that Department officials acknowledged that $360 million they wanted to send Palestinians might be used to fund terror, but they sent it anyway.
“We assess there is a high risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza,” read a draft of the request to the Treasury Department that the money be exempt from the Taylor Force Act. “There is less but still some risk U.S. assistance would benefit other designated groups,” State admitted. “Notwithstanding this risk, State believes it is in our national security interest to provide assistance in the West Bank and Gaza to support the foreign policy objectives.” The Taylor Force Act of 2018 is bipartisan legislation that bans giving U.S. funds to Palestinian authorities if they continue to pay the families of imprisoned terrorists, known as “pay to slay.”
The October 7 massacres and information that Hamas began its planning in 2021 – the same year Secretary Blinken’s team requested the funding – has put the spotlight back on the State Department’s decision. Senator Ted Cruz read directly from the documents during a podcast and other policymakers have renewed calls for investigation. The New York Post, Newsweek, Fox News, the Washington Examiner, the Free Beacon, the Daily Caller and many other publications revisited or reported the subject for the first time, with several publishing multiple stories, as well. Citation of the findings precipitated the announcement by senior Biden officials to rethink their proposed unfreezing of $6 billion to Iran, given that country’s likely role in the October attacks.
If the State Department had its way, the public wouldn’t know about the documents. PPT originally submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents in May 2021 and the Department didn’t make things easy. The watchdog had to file suit against State in January 2022, as the Free Beacon reported at the time, to force the agency to produce documents.
“It’s clear the State Department knew it was playing with fire when attempting to skirt the Taylor Force Act and sent money it recognized was likely to find its way into the hands of Hamas,” said Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain. “Despite State’s stonewalling at multiple stages, PPT was able to obtain the records that exposed this tragic reality. These revelations have helped stoke public outrage that has prompted the Biden administration to exercise renewed caution not only over future funding to Gaza but also the release of $6 billion more into the hands of the Iranian government.”