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US to remove 5 groups from foreign terror blacklist, including Kahane’s Kach

BERLIN — The United States is poised to remove five extremist groups, all believed to be defunct, from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including several that once posed significant threats, killing hundreds if not thousands of people across Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Although the groups are inactive, the decision is politically sensitive for the Biden administration and the countries in which the organizations operated, and could draw criticism from victims and their families still dealing with the losses of loved ones.

The organizations include the Basque separatist group ETA, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, the radical Jewish group Kahane Chai (Kach) and two Islamic groups that have been active in Israel, Gaza and Egypt — the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem and Gama’a al-Islamiyya.

Kach was a movement founded in Israel by the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane and is also blacklisted by the Jewish state.

A US official speaking to The Times of Israel clarified that the move as it related to Kahane Chai, saying the revocation “was required by US law since there was insufficient evidence from the last five years that [the] organization, directed or engaged in terrorist activity.

However, the US official said that Kahane Chai “will remain a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity,” even if it is dropped from the FTO list. “The US government remains concerned by the legacy of Kahane Chai and the continued use of its rhetoric among violent right wing extremists.”

The US State Department notified Congress on Friday of the moves, which come at the same time as an increasingly divisive but unrelated debate in Washington and elsewhere about whether Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard should or can be legally removed from the US list as part of efforts to salvage the languishing Iran nuclear deal.

That designation, which was imposed by the Trump administration, was not mentioned in Friday’s notifications.

In separate notices to lawmakers, the State Department said the terrorism designations for the five groups will be formally removed when the determinations are published in the Federal Register, which is expected this coming week.

Copies of the notifications, all of which were signed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, were obtained by The Associated Press.

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