U.S. blacklists Egyptian militant group

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed a series of attacks in Cairo and in the Sinai Peninsula

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The United States designated an Egypt-based militant group that has claimed a series of attacks in Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula as a terrorist group.

The Department of State announced in a statement that Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been designated “as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.”

The designation means that all assets the group may have in the United States will be frozen and all activities of financing or collaborating with the group will be banned.

The State Department said Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) was created in 2011 following the Egyptian uprising and “is responsible for attacks on Israel and security services and tourists in Egypt.”

The department also stated the group is sympathetic to al-Qaeda but is not a formal affiliate.

“ABM – who shares some aspects of AQ ideology, but is not a formal AQ affiliate and generally maintains a local focus – was responsible for a July 2012 attack against a Sinai pipeline exporting gas to Israel,” the State Department statement added.

In August 2012, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on the southern Israeli city of Eilat, and in September 2012 its militants attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing one soldier and injuring another.

In October 2013, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack targeting the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three people and injured more than 45.

In January 2014, it successfully shot downed a military helicopter in a missile attack, killing five soldiers on board, according to the State Department. It also claimed responsibility for four attacks involving car bombs and hand grenades in Cairo, which left six people dead and over 70 wounded, many of them civilian bystanders.

ABM has also targeted government officials, including an attempted assassination of Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim in September 2013.

In February 2014, ABM began targeting foreign tourists. A bombing of a tour bus in the Sinai Peninsula killed the Egyptian driver and three South Korean tourists.

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