US puts Mali rebel group on terror blacklist
22 March 2013, 13:09
Washington - The United States on Thursday placed Mali's
Islamist Ansar Dine on its terror blacklist, accusing the group of close links
with al-Qaeda and of torturing and killing opponents in northern Mali.
The Ansar Dine, or Defenders of the Faith group, was set up
in late 2011 by Iyad Ag Ghaly and was backed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
(Aqim) as it sought last year to seize parts of the west African nation.
The State Department on Thursday designated the group as a
foreign terrorist organization as well as a global terrorist entity, meaning
that any property it holds in the United States is frozen and Americans are
barred from doing business with it.
Ansar Dine "received backing from Aqim in its fight
against Malian and French forces, most notably in the capture of the Malian
towns of Agulhok, Tessalit, Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu, between January and
April," it said.
Before French forces deployed in Mali earlier this year to
flush out the Islamist rebels, people in areas under Ansar Dine's control who
did not comply with its laws "faced harassment, torture, or
execution," the statement added.
Ghaly, who the United States blacklisted in February, is a
long-time fighter against the Malian government, having led a 1990 rebellion by
the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MPLA).
After the 1992 peace accords, he became the Tuareg
community's leading negotiator with the Malian president's office.
But in 2006 he took command of rebel fighters behind attacks
on military bases in Kidal, the State Department said.