US declares Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis a terrorist organisation

Joel Gulhane
3 Min Read

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the United States State Department on Wednesday.

The State Department said that the designation includes “a prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with this organisation, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organisation that is in the United States, or come within the United States or the control of US persons”.

The Sinai-based militant group has launched several attacks around Egypt since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The group claimed responsibility for suicide bombing attacks in the Sinai peninsula as well as an attempt on the life of Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim in November last year.

A Cairo court will decide on 14 April whether the group will be labelled a terrorist organisation in Egypt.

British members of parliament designated Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis a terror organisation at the beginning of April, according to the BBC.

The state department said that Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis was founded in 2011 after the 25 January uprisings and “is responsible for attacks on Israel and security services and tourists in Egypt”.

The group has said it aims to target the economic interests of the Egyptian government and often claims responsibility for attacking gas pipelines in North Sinai.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for an attack on a tourist bus in February in the border town of Taba, which killed the Egyptian driver and three South Korean tourists.

In October 2013 the Sinai-based group also claimed responsibility for an attack on the military intelligence building in Ismailia that injured six, claiming that they carried it out “to cleanse Egypt of crime and military foreign agents”. The group also claimed responsibility for an explosion at an empty government building in El-Tor, North Sinai and released a video this week showing them carrying out the attack.

The militants also claimed responsibility for assassinations and the downing of a military helicopter in January.

On 24 January the group carried out a series of bomb attacks around the Greater Cairo area leaving six dead and dozens injured.

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Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane