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US labels Iran-backed group terrorist


WASHINGTON, July 11, (Agencies): The US designated Tuesday Al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB), “an Iran-backed group in Bahrain”, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). The Department of State said in a statement that it also designated two AAB-affiliated individuals, identified as Ahmad Yusuf and Alsayed Alawi, AKA Mortada Al-Sanadi as SDGTs in March 2017.

The statement affirmed that today’s designations “seek to deny AAB the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks,” and that these designations “support a larger campaign to deter Iran’s malign behavior and stop its support for terrorists around the world. “Among other consequences, all of its property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with this organization. In addition, it is a crime to knowingly provide, or attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to the organization,” it stressed.

In this regard, US Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales stressed “Al-Ashtar is yet another in a long line of Iranian sponsored terrorists who kill on behalf of a corrupt regime. Today’s designation serves notice that the United States sees plainly what Iran is trying to do to Bahrain through its proxy, the terrorist group Al-Ashtar.” According to the statement, AAB, which was established in 2013, “is an Iran-backed terrorist organization aimed at overthrowing the Bahraini government.” It has “claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks against police and security targets in Bahrain,” and has also “called for violence against the Bahraini, British, Saudi Arabian, and US governments on social media.”

It indicated that in January 2018, AAB “formally adopted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) branding and reaffirmed its loyalty to Tehran to reflect its role in an Iranian network of state and non-state actors that operates against the United States and its allies in the region.”

Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that “AAB is a terrorist organization and has committed or poses a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system,” the statement noted.

Bahrain, meanwhile, has welcomed the decision by US Department of State designating Al-Ashtar Brigades (Saraya Al-Ashtar) as a terrorist organization. In a statement on Tuesday, Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry commended this move, saying that it reflects keenness on maintaining security and stability of Bahrain, and embodies the depth of historic and strategic relations between the two friendly countries. The statement affirmed Bahrain’s commitment, in cooperation with the US, to facing common threats and countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Bahrain renewed its call for the international community to continue supporting efforts of countering terrorism and to create a safer environment for all, the statement noted. Providing continued support to allies through labelling terrorist groups aims at backing efforts seeking to maintain international stability and security, it pointed out.

A top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed his country’s “strategic relationship” with Russia on Wednesday during a visit to Moscow, part of a diplomatic offensive by Tehran as it braces for renewed US sanctions. Ali Akbar Velayati, who is due to meet President Vladimir Putin, also took a swipe at US President Donald Trump, saying his “unreliable” actions made Tehran’s close ties with Moscow all the more necessary.

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