In a letter sent to local bank heads earlier in September, they were asked to disclose the accounts of six Hamas activists including spiritual leader Shaikh Ahmad Yasin, senior political leader Abd al-Aziz al-Rantissi and Lebanon head Usama Hamdan.

"We in the Hamas movement were surprised by this news. We did not expect such a request to be issued from anyone in Lebanon, which resists (Israel) and in whose strategic and national choices in support of the Palestinian uprising and resistance we trust," Hamdan said in a statement.

"We implore President Emile Lahoud to intervene to fix this matter and correct this," it said.

"Whoever dares take such a decision places himself with the American and Israeli positions of considering the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people 'terrorism'."

Hizb Allah statement

Banks were also asked to reveal accounts linked to five Palestinian groups Washington accuses of financially supporting Hamas including the Lebanon-based Sanabil Association for Relief and Development.

Sanabil denies ties to Hamas and says it aims to help Palestinian refugees and orphans.

But a Central Bank official said on Sunday there was no decision to freeze any accounts found and that any action would depend on the result of the probe, a position the bank reiterated in a statement on Monday.

Another resistance group Hizb Allah, which helped end the Jewish state's 22-year occupation of south Lebanon and has vowed to support the Palestinian uprising against Israel, blasted the move as kowtowing to US pressure on the Palestinians and Syria.

"This decision is not innocent, in its timing or the background," the group said in a statement.
 
"Whoever dares take such a decision places himself with the American and Israeli positions of considering the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people 'terrorism'," it said.