The United States has extended for another two years terrorist designations for two Pakistan-based Islamic extremist groups blamed for attacks in Indian Kashmir and India itself. The two groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, were held responsible by India for a December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi.
The decision to extend the terrorist designation for the two groups was made by Secretary of State Colin Powell and announced Tuesday in a posting in the U.S. government's official journal, The Federal Register.
Both had first been put on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in late December 2001, days after the suicide attack on the Indian parliament that killed nine people and triggered a political crisis between India and Pakistan that nearly led to warfare.
The renewed designation, among other things, bars U.S. citizens from giving money to the groups, requires U.S. financial institutions to freeze their assets, and denies U.S. visas to representatives of the groups.
The action by Secretary Powell aims to close any loopholes in the sanctions by listing several aliases and sub-groups of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed which would also be subject to U.S. penalties.
In addition, Mr. Powell extended a related set of U.S. financial sanctions against the groups under an executive order issued by President Bush soon after the September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.
In a written statement, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Secretary of State acted after a thorough review of the groups' activities over the last two years.
The action maintains the State Department terrorist list at 36 groups. Mr. Boucher expressed hope it will help isolate those organizations, choke off their sources of financial support, and prevent their members from moving across international borders.
In its latest report on global terrorism, last April, the State Department said Jaish-e-Mohammed has several hundred armed supporters, mostly Pakistanis and Kashmiris but also Afghans and Arab veterans of the Afghan war. It said that in addition to anti-Indian attacks, the group is suspected in a series of attacks on Christians in Pakistan in 2002.
The report said Lashkar-e-Taiba also has hundreds of militants, including many Afghans, who train in mobile camps in Pakistani Kashmir. It said the group was suspected in a series of attacks on Indian border-security forces including a May, 2002 attack on an army base that killed 36 Indian soldiers. It also said Lashkar-e-Taiba may be helping shelter al-Qaida members in Pakistan.