WASHINGTON — The US State Department designated an al-Qaeda affiliated group active in the Gaza Strip as a foreign terrorist organization Tuesday morning.
The official designation that forbids Americans from supporting or engaging in transactions with the group, and allows the US to freeze any assets or interests in the group’s property.
Some three years after its inception, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) will no longer be allowed to raise funds or carry out any transactions in the United States or American institutions.
Foreign terror organization designations are made by the State Department in consultation with the Treasury and the Department of Justice.
According to State Department officials, MSC is an umbrella group composed of several jihadist terrorist sub-groups based in Gaza. It claimed responsibility for a number of attacks between its inception following the Arab Spring of 2011 and 2013.
It was the MSC that took credit for a rocket attack on Sderot that was launched during US President Barack Obama’s March 2013 visit to Israel. Only two of the four rockets fired actually left the boundaries of the Gaza Strip and reached their target.
The organization took credit for the attack, issuing a statement saying that “responding to the bragging of the Roman dog and the war criminals of their so-called Iron Dome, we assert that all their military techniques will not stop God’s destiny of tormenting them.”
In February of this year, the MSC released a statement declaring support for the Islamic State (IS) group — then still known as ISIS, or ISIL — currently active in Syria and northern Iraq.
MSC has been on Israel’s radar since shortly after its inception. In the course of a week in October 2012, IDF airstrikes killed Hisham al-Saedni, the MSC’s leader in Gaza as well as two other operatives, one of whom had a leadership role in the group’s first terror attack.