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Investment by Terrorist Leader's Wife Freezes Firm's Accounts

Associated Press

DALLAS {AP}- The U.S. Treasury Department has frozen two bank accounts of an Internet company already under investigation by federal anti-terrorism agents because it received an investment from the wife of a top political leader of the Hamas terrorist group.

InfoCom Corp., an Internet service provider, received a $250,000 investment in 1993 by Nadia Elashi Marzouk, whose husband, Moussa Abu Marzouk, is deputy of the Hamas political bureau in Syria.

Marzouk was placed on a Treasury Department list of terrorists in 1995, allowing the government to seize his U.S. assets.

A top official and a lawyer for InfoCom said the company, based in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, has no connection to Hamas or other terrorist groups. InfoCom sells computer equipment and operates Web sites for Islamic groups in the United States and the Middle East.

InfoCom's vice president for marketing, Ghassan Elashi, said the woman who gave money is his cousin and that the transaction was strictly an investment. He said the company never had any dealings with her husband, the Hamas political official.

The frozen bank accounts contain about $70,000, said Arch McColl, the company's lawyer. He said the Treasury Department's action on Sept. 5 - the same day FBI agents raided InfoCom and hauled away computers and servers - damaged the business but would not cause it to close. The freeze was disclosed Wednesday.

The Treasury Department declined to comment. Lori Bailey, an FBI spokeswoman in Dallas, said the Treasury's action "was obviously a part of the overall investigation," but she declined further comment. The FBI said the raid was part of a two-year anti-terrorism probe.

The Commerce Department temporarily suspended InfoCom's export license because of what officials called illegal computer shipments to Libya and Syria. The State Department restricts exports of technology to those countries, which the United States accuses of sponsoring terrorism.

McColl said a shipment destined for Malta was stopped when InfoCom learned the buyer was in Libya, and the company didn't know it needed a special license to ship two computers to Syria.

Federal authorities have also issued subpoenas for records of some InfoCom clients, including the pro-Palestinian Holy Land Foundation, which has offices across the street. Elashi is the chairman of the foundation. The group is banned in Israel, where the government accuses it of raising money for Hamas.

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