U.S. updates foreign terrorism blacklist, removing 5 extremist groups

·1 min read
A wall painted with portraits of prisoners of the Basque separatist armed group ETA, in the small village of Hernani, northern Spain, on May 2, 2018.
A wall painted with portraits of prisoners of the Basque separatist armed group ETA, in the small village of Hernani, northern Spain, on May 2, 2018. Alvaro Barrientos/AP

The U.S. State Department plans to remove five extremist groups from its list of foreign terrorist organizations, NPR reported Monday. The groups were once considered serious threats after killing "hundreds if not thousands" of people in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, but are now "all believed to be defunct," NPR writes.

The Basque separatist group ETA, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, the Jewish extremist group Kahane Kach, the Gaza Strip-based umbrella jihadist organization Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, and the Egyptian Sunni Islamist movement Gama'a al-Islamiyya comprise the groups being removed from the list. Each of the groups is thought to be inactive at this time.

The State Department has already notified Congress that the changes are being made. "Revoking FTO designations ensures our terrorism sanctions remain current and credible and does not reflect any change in policy towards the past activities of any of these … organizations," the State Department emphasized in a statement.

Legally, an administrative review of the foreign terrorist designations must be done every five years. Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on the notifications on May 11, writing for all five groups that "based on a review of the Administrative Record assembled in this matter and in consultation with the attorney general and the secretary of the Treasury, I determine that the circumstances that were the basis for the designation ... have changed in such a manner to warrant revocation of the designation." Read more about the organizations being removed from the list at NPR.

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