The leader of the Ansar al-Dine militant group has been designated as an international terrorist.
In the United States’ continuing effort to help restore peace and stability to the troubled West African nation of Mali, the leader of the Ansar al-Dine militant group that has helped fuel the fighting there has been designated as an international terrorist.
Both the United States and the United Nations have imposed sanctions on Iyad ag Ghali, a move that will hurt his finances and hamper his effectiveness. Under the U.S. designation, any assets he holds in the United States are frozen and American individuals and businesses, including financial institutions, are prohibited from doing business with him. The U.N. listing requires all member states to implement an assets freeze, a travel ban and an arms embargo against him.
Ghali cooperates closely with the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb terrorist group, or AQIM, and created Ansar al-Dine in late 2011 after he failed to take over a secular Tuareg organization demanding greater autonomy for northern Mali. He has received backing from AQIM in the struggle against Malian and French forces fighting to regain control of Northern Mali. Before the transitional Malian government called for French military assistance, Malian citizens in towns under Ansar al-Dine’s control who did not comply with the group’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, faced harassment, torture or execution.
The combined U.S. and U.N. actions demonstrate international resolve in ending Ghali’s violent activities both in Mali and the surrounding region.