U.S. pins terrorist label on Indonesian Islamic State backer

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2016 1:21 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday slapped a special terrorist designation on Indonesia's most high-profile backer of Islamic State, blocking any U.S. assets he might have, banning dealings with him by Americans and opening the way for U.S. law-enforcement action against him.

The State Department said Santoso, a militant in Poso in central Sulawesi who has been on the run for more than three years, had been added to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT). Santoso, like many in Indonesia, goes by one name.

"As a result of this designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Santoso has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with Santoso," the department said in a statement.

It said Santoso was the leader of the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT), a group already on the State Department's SDGT list, that had been responsible for numerous killings and kidnappings in Indonesia over the past few years.

"Today’s action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Santoso is actively engaged in terrorism," the department said. 

It said the SDGT designation enabled "coordinated action across the U.S. Government and with our international partners to disrupt the activities of terrorists, including by denying them access to the U.S. financial system and enabling U.S. law enforcement actions."

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Gregorio)