U.S. Designates Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization

Blood stains are seen at the site of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv

Blood stains are seen at the site of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv / AP

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The State Department designated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization Wednesday.

According to a press release:

Created in 2011 following the Egyptian uprisings, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) is responsible for attacks on Israel and security services and tourists in Egypt.  ABM – who shares some aspects of AQ ideology, but is not a formal AQ affiliate and generally maintains a local focus – was responsible for a July 2012 attack against a Sinai pipeline exporting gas to Israel. In August 2012, ABM claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on the southern Israeli city of Eilat, and in September 2012, ABM militants attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing one soldier and injuring another.

In October 2013, ABM claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing targeting the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three people and injured more than 45.  In January 2014, ABM successfully downed a military helicopter in a missile attack, killing five soldiers on board, and claimed responsibility for four attacks involving car bombs and hand grenades in Cairo, which left six people dead and over 70 wounded, many of them civilian bystanders.

ABM has also targeted government officials, including the September 2013 attempted assassination of the Egyptian Interior Minister, and the January 2014 assassination of the head of the Interior Minister’s technical office. In February 2014, ABM expanded its targets to include foreign tourists, and claimed responsibility for the bombing of a tour bus in the Sinai Peninsula, killing the Egyptian driver and three South Korean tourists.

The Obama administration last month denied an appeal from Egypt for the delivery of U.S. Apache attack helicopters needed for counterterrorism operations. The Egyptian government said the helicopters were needed to combat ABM.