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US State Department blacklists pro-Iran group in Bahrain

Shiite Muslim Saraya al-Mukhtar poses ‘significant risk of committing acts of terrorism that threaten national security and foreign policy of US,’ Pompeo says

Illustrative: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, on August 19, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)
Illustrative: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, on August 19, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday placed a pro-Iranian group based in Bahrain on its global “terror list,” accusing it of plotting attacks on US troops in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

The group, Saraya al-Mukhtar, poses a “significant risk of committing acts of terrorism that threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“Saraya al-Mukhtar is an Iran-backed terrorist organization based in Bahrain, reportedly receiving financial and logistic support from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Pompeo said.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been on the US “Designated Global Terrorist” list since 2019.

“Saraya al-Mukhtar’s self-described goal is to depose the Bahraini government with the intention of paving the way for Iran to exert greater influence in Bahrain,” Pompeo said. “The group has plotted attacks against US personnel in Bahrain and has offered cash rewards for the assassination of Bahraini officials.”

Placing Saraya al-Mukhtar on the list freezes any assets it has in the United States, deprives it of access to the US financial system and bans US citizens from any dealings with the group.

The Shiite Muslim Saraya al-Mukhtar is known on the internet for making threats against the royal family of Bahrain and condemning the treatment of the Shiite Muslim minority in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

It was accused in 2017 of hijacking the Twitter account of Bahrain’s foreign minister, a member of the Sunni Muslim dynasty which reigns over the majority-Shiite state.

US President Donald Trump has pledged to step up the pressure on Iran until the end of his term in the White House on January 20.

US President-elect Joe Biden has indicated that he would be open to renewing a dialogue with the Iranian authorities.

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