WASHINGTON – Three more Middle Eastern groups are on the list of terrorist organizations designated by the U.S. State Department, named just as a suicide bomber attacked an Israeli resort town.
Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday designated the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Palestinian militia linked to the Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, as a terrorist.
Asbat al-Ansar, an Algerian group dedicated to the overthrow of the Algerian government, and the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, a Sunni Muslim group based in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, were also named as terror groups.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher announced the new names in his daily briefing and said they were included on the list because they are engaged in terror, pose a threat to U.S. interests, or threaten legitimate governments.
"The secretary designated these three groups in consultation with the attorney general and the secretary of the treasury after an exhaustive review of the groups' violent activities," Boucher said.
Boucher added that the Algerian Salafist group may have ties to Al Qaeda, the Afghanistan-based group that U.S. troops are pursuing in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The announcement came shortly after a suicide bomber detonated himself at a hotel in the northern Israeli resort town Netanya, where many Israelis congregate to celebrate the week-long holiday of Passover, which began at sundown Wednesday. The Islamic militant group Hamas, already on the State Department's list, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The three organizations will have their financial ties investigated and assets will be frozen. Any U.S. subjects will be prohibited from providing material resources or support to the groups, and members of the groups will be ineligible to enter the United States legally, Boucher said.
The latest designation brings to 33 the number of groups identified by the State Department as foreign terrorist organizations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.