- US removed five extremist groups from its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
- All these terror groups are believed to be defunct.
- They were removed after a mandatory five-year review of their designations.
In notices published in the Federal Register on Friday, the US State Department said it had removed five extremist groups from its list of foreign terrorist organizations. All these terror groups are believed to be defunct, and hence they were removed after a mandatory five-year review of their designations. Upon review, Al-Qaida was kept on the list, which was created under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA.
“Our review of these five FTO designations determined that, as defined by the INA the five organizations are no longer engaged in terrorism or terrorist activity and do not retain the capability and intent to do so,” the State Department said in a statement. “Therefore, as required by the INA, these FTO designations are being revoked.”
The groups removed from the list are:
- Aum Shinrikyo (AUM), the Japanese “Supreme Truth” cult that carried out the deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 that killed 13 people and sickened hundreds more. The group has been considered largely defunct since the executions of its top echelons, including leader Shoko Asahara, in 2018. It was designated a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.
- Basque Fatherland and Liberty, or ETA, ran a separatist campaign of bombings and assassinations in northern Spain and elsewhere for decades that killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands more, until declaring a cease-fire in 2010 and disbanding after the arrests and trials of its last leaders in 2018. It was designated a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.
- Kahane Chai, or Kach. The radical Orthodox Jewish group was founded by ultranationalist Israeli Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1971. He led the group until his assassination in 1990. Members of the group have killed, attacked, or otherwise threatened or harassed Arabs, Palestinians and Israeli government officials, but the organization has been dormant since 2005. The group was first designated in 1997.
- The Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, an umbrella group of several jihadist organizations based in Gaza that has claimed responsibility for numerous rocket and other attacks on Israel since its founding in 2012. The council was first designated in 2014.
- Gama’a al-Islamiyya, or Islamic Group–IG, is an Egyptian Sunni Islamist movement that fought to topple Egypt's government during the 1990s. It conducted hundreds of deadly attacks against the police and security forces as well as tourists. The group was first designated in 1997.
Several of the removed groups once posed significant threats, killing hundreds if not thousands of people across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The decision was politically sensitive for the Biden administration and the countries in which the organizations operated. It may draw criticism from victims and their families.
The organizations removed are the Basque separatist group ETA, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, the radical Jewish group Kahane Kach and two Islamic groups that have been active in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Egypt.
(With inputs from AP)