U.S. declares Iraq-based group foreign terrorist organization

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 2, 2009 4:25pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Thursday said it has declared Kata'ib Hizballah a foreign terrorist organization, saying the group is linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah and has posed a threat to stability in Iraq.

The designation means the Iraq-based militant group's assets will be frozen and Americans will be prohibited from providing it with any resources, the State Department said in a statement.

Separately, the U.S. Treasury targeted Kata'ib Hizballah and Iran-based Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis for committing acts of violence against U.S. and Iraqi security forces.

Treasury said Muhandis was an adviser to the commander of Iran's Qods Force -- an arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for providing material support to groups like Lebanon-based Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The State Department said Kata'ib Hizballah had ideological ties to Hezbollah and was responsible for "numerous terrorist acts" against Iraqi, U.S. and other targets since 2007.

It said the organization was responsible for numerous improvised explosive device bombings, rocket propelled grenade attacks and sniper operations, including a November 2008 rocket attack that killed two U.N. workers.

Treasury said Muhandis ran a weapons smuggling network through the Iran-Iraq border to Shi'ite militants that targeted U.S. forces. It said Muhandis also facilitated training for militants to carry out attacks in Iraq.

(Reporting by Deborah Charles)

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