The United States has placed sanctions on the alleged leader of Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine.
State Department officials said Tuesday they have designated Iyad ag Ghali as a global terrorist. The move freezes any property or assets under U.S. jurisdiction that Ghali may have, and bans Americans from engaging in transactions with him.
Ghali was previously targeted for sanctions by the United Nations al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.
The State Department says Ghali created Ansar Dine in late 2011 after he failed to win control of a secular Tuareg group because of his extremist views.
It says Ansar Dine received backing from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb last year as the group seized control of several northern Malian cities. Ansar Dine then implemented a harsh form of Islamic law that included torture and executions as punishment.
French and Malian forces retook control of northern Mali from the Islamists last month.