Updated Apr 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Congress eyes sanctions on "under the radar" Gaza militant group

Rep. Brad Sherman, wearing a dark gray pinstrip suit, light blue shirt, yellow tie and glasses, sitting at a committee rostrum speaking into a microphone.

Rep. Brad Sherman. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

A bipartisan group of House members is introducing legislation to sanction the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees for their role in the Oct. 7 attack, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Despite the group's connections to prominent Palestinian U.S.-designated terror groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, it has managed to avoid U.S. sanctions.

  • "For far too long, the Popular Resistance Committees have flown under the radar and avoided real consequences for their horrific crimes," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), the bill's sponsor, in a statement.

Driving the news: The 11-page bill labels the PRC the "third-largest terror group in the Gaza strip," after Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

  • It imposes sanctions on the PRC and those connected to the group by blocking them from doing business or owning property in the U.S. or possessing a U.S. entry visa.
  • The measure also requires the State Department to issue a report on whether to designate the PRC and the West Bank-based Lion's Den militant group as terrorist organizations.

The backdrop: The PRC were a main suspect in the bombing of a diplomatic convoy in Gaza in 2003 that killed three U.S. security guards.

What they're saying: "The time has come to hold this heinous terror group accountable for decades of cowardly attacks against innocent Israelis, Americans, and Palestinians, and apply the full force of U.S. sanctions to cut off the PRC from the global financial system," Sherman said.

Between the lines: In addition to Sherman, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) and Brad Schneider (D-Ill.).

  • The inclusion of McCaul, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, signals that the bill could attain the GOP leadership support needed to get a vote on the House floor.
  • Schneider and Kustoff both sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over sanctions legislation.
  • A spokesperson for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) did not respond to a request for comment.

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