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Al-Qaeda affiliate added to State Department's terrorism list

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The Muslim terrorist group al-Mulathamun Battalion on Wednesday was added to the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list and to the list created by Executive Order 13224, the Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization, the State Department's spokesperson announced.

Al-Mulathamun Battalion's leader and members were originally part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maggreb (AQIM) until its leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, left AQIM to start his own organization in 2012, according to State Department officials.

In his first international message after his split from AQIM, Belmokhtar announced that he and his group would battle against "Western interests" and he boasted about creating a sub-battalion, "Those Who Sign in Blood," which he claimed is comprised of his best warriors.

In January 2013, the group's sub-battalion allegedly attacked an Algerian gas facility and lay siege to that installation for four days. During the violent siege, about 40 civilians, including three American citizens, were killed by the terrorists. Seven other Americans managed to escape the Islamists' attack, according to the State Department.

In May of this year, the Battalion joined another U.S. designated terrorist group -- the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa -- and perpetrated two bombings in Niger that resulted in at least 20 deaths. In August, the two terrorist entities merged and created al-Murabitoun and Islamic terrorist network that poses a clear and present danger to U.S. and European interests in the Sahel.

As a result of the merger and its danger to U.S. national security, both the “Those Who Sign in Blood” battalion and “al-Murabitoun” are included in the designation as aliases of the al-Mulathamun Battalion, and, as a result, all of the consequences of these designations will apply to them.

"The consequences of the FTO and E.O. 13224 designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with, the al-Mulathamun Battalion, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organization that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the control of U.S. persons. The Department of State took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury," according to State Department officials.

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