Canada outlaws Hamas, but not Hezbollah
By CAMPBELL CLARK
Thursday, November 28, 2002 Page A1
OTTAWA -- The federal government made it illegal yesterday for Canadians to assist the
Palestinian group Hamas, naming it an outlawed terror group -- but sparked renewed
criticism by failing to name another group, Hezbollah.
The move places Gaza-based Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings
aimed at Jews in Israel, on a shortlist of organizations that are virtually banned in
Canada, alongside the likes of al-Qaeda. While membership alone is not illegal, providing
any material assistance carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.
After months of pressure to put Hamas and Hezbollah on the list of outlawed groups,
Solicitor-General Wayne Easter announced that Hamas's record of violent attacks against
Jews in Israel has earned it a place on the list. He refused to explain why the Lebanese
group Hezbollah was left off.
The federal government concluded that money donated to social charities operated by Hamas
had "leaked to the terrorist apparatus" -- the fact that apparently
distinguishes it from Hezbollah.
In the past, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham has said that while Hezbollah's military
wing is outlawed, Canadians can still finance or assist the group's social wing, which
conducts charitable activities.
But Mr. Easter would not repeat that reasoning yesterday, instead saying that additional
groups will be added to the list of organizations named under Canada's 2001 antiterror
"This is a very, very serious matter, being listed under Bill C-36. They can have
their assets seized and frozen and association with those groups is considered to be a
crime," Mr. Easter said.
"So it's a very, very serious matter and it should be done delicately and with the
full examination of the facts," he said. "You cannot, just based on some
activities, do a knee-jerk reaction."
Stockwell Day, the Canadian Alliance foreign affairs critic, said that the government was
slow to list Hamas, taking 11 months since the antiterror bill was passed. He said recent
attacks made it impossible for the Liberal government not to place it on the list, and
that Hezbollah should have been added at the same time.
"It's been 15 months since Sept. 11," Mr. Day said. "They should have been
on the list now. We can only hope that the pressure will continue to build on the
government and they will add Hezbollah to the list."
Listing under the law means that anyone found to have financed or materially assisted
Hamas can get up to 10 years in jail. In contrast, the penalties for being included on the
larger United Nations' suppression-of-terrorist-financing list -- a list that includes
Hezbollah's military wing -- include freezing of a group's assets.
Yesterday, five other Mideast-based groups were added to Canada's list of outlawed terror
groups, in addition to Hamas: Islamic Army of Aden, Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen, Asbat Al-Ansar,
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Mr. Easter would not say whether Hamas has any activities in Canada, only that it is on
the list because of its involvement in terrorism.
The Canadian government's release yesterday said Hamas is well-financed and organized.
"Since 1990, Hamas has been responsible for several hundred terrorist attacks against
both civilian and military targets.
"Hamas has been one of the primary groups involved in suicide bombings aimed at
Israelis in the course of the intifada [uprising] that started in September, 2000,"
the release said.
Mr. Day charged yesterday that the Liberals might be refusing to include Hezbollah for
"political reasons" that he did not specify.
Mr. Easter said he was "shocked" by the allegation, and that it showed that Mr.
Day was treating a serious matter lightly.
The U.S. government considers Hezbollah's status as a terrorist group beyond doubt and has
placed it on its own list of terrorist organizations.
U.S. deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage called the group the "A-team of