June 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

State Department Sanctions Armed Palestinian Group in Nablus But Refrains From Terrorist Designation

June 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

State Department Sanctions Armed Palestinian Group in Nablus But Refrains From Terrorist Designation

Latest Developments

The U.S. State Department announced sanctions on a notorious Palestinian terrorist group on June 6 but refrained from designating it as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” or “as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.” The group, known as Arin al-Usoud (“The Lions’ Den”), is based in the West Bank city of Nablus and is responsible for several terrorist attacks on Israeli and Palestinian targets. In its statement confirming the sanctions under Executive Order 14115, the State Department pledged to “use the tools at our disposal to expose and hold accountable those who threaten peace and stability” in the West Bank. However, had the Biden administration invoked Executive Order 13224, more far-reaching economic sanctions would have been enabled, along with the disruption of the financial networks that have materially supported The Lions’ Den.

Expert Analysis

“This action by the administration is a day late and a dollar short. The decision to impose sanctions on The Lions’ Den using Executive Order 14115 is perplexing, as it would indicate that its violent activities against civilian targets are not considered to be terrorism. The administration took a similar approach in sanctioning the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen while stopping short of adding them to the terrorism list. The open-source evidence supports designating The Lions’ Den as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.” Tyler Stapleton, FDD Action Director of Congressional Relations

“The belated U.S. sanctioning of The Lions’ Den is ineffective. The group’s momentum peaked in late 2022, only to dissipate under the weight of intense Israeli military pressure, including some efforts by the Palestinian Authority. Today, The Lions’ Den is a shell of its former self, and its current threat level is negligible, posing little risk to Israelis and Palestinians alike.Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

The Lions’ Den

When it first emerged in August 2022, The Lions’ Den touted itself as an organization that did not associate with other established Palestinian terror organizations despite reports that it was funded by Hamas. The group quickly became popular among the Palestinian street due to its online profile and persistent attacks on Israeli targets.

On October 11, 2022, The Lions’ Den murdered 21-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier Ido Baruch while he was manning a military post at the Ganot interchange in the West Bank.

The Lions’ Den did not exclusively attack Israelis. In one incident, the group said it executed a Palestinian on April 9, 2023, on the suspicion that the victim had supplied information to Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency that resulted in the deaths of members of the organization.

Unrest in the West Bank: More Than Two Years of Escalating Violence,” by Joe Truzman

Analysis: West Bank Violence Trending Upward,” by Joe Truzman

Mapping Terrorism in the West Bank,” by Joe Truzman

Israel Strikes at Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Terrorists in Jenin,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power Palestinian Politics Sanctions and Illicit Finance