Prior investigation had revealed that the captain of the vessel was Colonel Omar Akawi, a Fatah activist since 1976 and former member of the Palestinian Authority. According to Lloyd's List, which tracks worldwide shipping records, the ship was purchased on August 31, 2001 from a Lebanese company by the Palestinian Authority, under the name of Adel Mughrabi. The alleged purchaser of the weapons, Mughrabi (aka Adel Salameh), was a former member of Yassir Arafat's staff until the early 1980s "when he was dismissed for conducting private business which conflicted with his official status".Sorry, getting my dates and affairs mixed up.
The ship was the Karine A, and the issue was called the Karine A affair.
The issue was designed to scupper the impending peace agreement between Arafat and Sharon.
Arafat denied all knowledge of the affair, and claimed an Israeli set-up. Bush chose to not believe him.
The impending peace deal fell apart.
Again Bush was more concerned with invading Iraq than any possible peace deal between israel and Palestine.
Also, USA designated Hamas as terrorist in 1997, according to ths account:
Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means...www.state.gov
The ship was then sailed to Sudan, where it was loaded with regular cargo and the crew was switched with Palestinian Authority personnel. It was renamed from Rim K to Karine A when it was registered in Tonga on September 12. During November 2001, they sailed to the Hodeida port in Yemen. Afterwards, the ship was loaded with weapons by the Iranians and the Hezbollah; while in transit, it was manned by personnel of the Palestinian Authority. The objective was to transport the weapons to the Palestinian Naval Police near the Gaza beaches.
Major General Yedidya Ya'ari, the commander of the Israeli Navy, reported that the weapons and equipment were packed in 83 crates, in waterproof plastic and attached to buoys, to permit their drop-off and retrieval at sea.
Shipments to Ireland for the Republican Army were sent on in similar fashion.