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Terrorist Groups Not Alarmed by Asset Freeze

MILITANT Palestinian and Jewish groups targeted by President Clinton's asset freeze dismissed the decision as ineffective yesterday.

A spokesman for the militant Islamic group, Hamas, says Mr. Clinton is ``deluding himself'' if he thinks the action will restrict Hamas's activities.

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And Baruch Marzel of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach movement says the freeze hardly affects them. Mr. Marzel says activists in the United States were tipped off three weeks ago about the planned freeze and cleared out their bank accounts.

Marzel accused Israel's government of orchestrating a pressure campaign on Clinton to order the asset freeze.

Israel outlawed Kach after one of its members shot and killed 29 Muslim worshipers in a mosque in the West Bank town of Hebron last February in an attempt to derail Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization talks.

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's spokesman said the PLO leader hoped Clinton's move ``will slow down the activities of those who are enemies of peace.''

Islamic militants opposed to the Israel-PLO self-rule accord signed in September 1993 have killed 54 Israelis in suicide bomb attacks in the last nine months.

Clinton issued an executive order that took effect Tuesday, freezing US assets of 12 Middle East ``terrorist'' groups that he said threatened the peace process.

The groups included two Jewish organizations - Kach and Kahane Chai - and 10 Arab groups.

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Among the Arab groups affected are the Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Mr. Arafat's strongest political rivals. The two Islamic militant groups are responsible for most of the attacks on Israelis.

Clinton also froze the assets of 18 individuals suspected of involvement in Middle East terrorism, including Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is on trial in New York for allegedly plotting to bomb the World Trade Center.

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