US removes Jewish and Palestinian groups from list of terrorist organizations

The United States will remove a Jewish extremist group linked to former rabbi Meir Kahane and a Palestinian militant group from the blacklist of terrorist organizations after years without violence, an official said on Sunday. The State Department briefed the Congress that he was going to stop using the label “terrorist” to refer to this group, because Kahane Chai “has not been linked to a terrorist attack since 2005”, announced an official. This qualification had been challenged in court by the group. The Shura Council of the Mujahideen around Jerusalem will also be removed from this list, the same source said. This Palestinian jihadist group was linked to rocket attacks ten years ago. The State Department designated Kahane Chai a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, three years after its supporter Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The movement is founded by Kahane, a US-born former rabbi and former Israeli lawmaker advocating the expulsion of Arabs from Israel. He was assassinated in New York in 1990. Revoking the designations “ensures that our terrorism sanctions remain credible and current,” a State Department official said on condition of anonymity. It “does not reflect any change in policy with respect to the past activities of either organization”. Being listed as a foreign terrorist organization greatly reduces the room for maneuver of these organizations in the United States: financial support is criminalized, for example. The State Department said it was keeping both groups on the less stringent Specially Designated Global Terrorist List. (Belga)

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