WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States named the Indian Mujahideen (IM) to its official blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations on Thursday, saying it has killed hundreds of innocent civilians in attacks dating back to 2005.
“IM’s primary method of attack is multiple coordinated bombings in crowded areas against economic and civilian targets to maximize terror and casualties,” the State Department said in announcing the designation, which bars U.S. citizens from providing any material support to the group and freezes any assets it may have in the United States.
The State Department said the IM, while based in India, has “significant links” to Pakistan and close ties to other groups on the U.S. terror blacklist including Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI).
The United States and India have sought to step up counterterrorism coordination over the past several years as the two countries improve ties, although Indian officials say they would like more help, including better intelligence sharing.
The State Department said the IM carried out a 2010 bombing of a popular German bakery in Pune, India frequented by tourists, killing 17 and injuring over 60 people, and another attack in Delhi in 2008 that killed 30 people.
It said IM was also responsible for 16 synchronized bomb blasts in crowded urban centres and a local hospital that killed 38 and injured more than 100 in Ahmedabad and played a “facilitative role” in the 2008 Mumbai attack carried out by LeT that killed 163 people, including six Americans.
“These designations highlight the threat posed by IM not only to Western interests, but to India, a close U.S. partner,” Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said in a statement.
“The Indian populace has borne the brunt of IM’s wanton violence and today’s actions illustrate our solidarity with the Indian government,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew Quinn; editing by Vicki Allen