The U.S. State Department is preparing to designate the Islamic extremist group under suspicion in the devastating October 12 nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia as a foreign terrorist organization. U.S. officials say the decision on the group, Jemaah Islamiya, is to be officially announced Wednesday.
Jemaah Islamiya, which has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia, was mentioned prominently in the State Department's most recent report on global terrorism and so the decision to add the group to the list of foreign terrorist organizations come as little surprise.
The decision, due for publication in Washington Wednesday, means it will become a crime for U.S. citizens to contribute funds to Jemaah Islamyia, and its members will be barred from getting visas to enter the United States.
Jemaah Islamiya has advocated creation of a single Islamic state comprising much of Southeast Asia and is the most prominent suspect in the Bali bomb attack, which killed nearly 200 people.
The United States has pressed Indonesia to take a harder line against the group, and its designation as a terrorist group comes in advance of a meeting this coming weekend of President Bush and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri at the Pacific-rim summit in Mexico.