By Jamie Crawford
The United States formally designated a radical Indonesian Islamist group a foreign terrorist organization and imposed sanctions on its leaders Thursday.
Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), which seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, was added to the Foreign Terrorist Organization list following its attacks on Indonesian government personnel and citizens, the State Department said.
"JAT has robbed banks and carried out other illicit activities to fund the purchase of assault weapons, pistols, and bomb-making materials," the department said in a statement announcing the move.A JAT suicide bomber detonated explosives in a central Java church in September of last year, killing himself and wounding dozens. Indonesian police have also uncovered additional suicide plots by the group across Indonesia, the State Department said.
The group's founder, Abu Bakar Bashir, is also a co-founder of Jemaah Islamiya, another radical Indonesian group. Jemaah Islamiya was responsible for the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali. Those attacks killed more than 200 people.
Bashir was already subject to sanctions by the U.S. government, and Jemaah Islamiya had previously been branded a terrorist organization by the State Department.
In addition to the designation, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three individuals associated with JAT - Mochammad Achwan, the group's acting emir, Son Hadi bin Muhadjir, its spokesman, and another leader, Abdul Rosyid Ridho Ba'asyir.
The move will freeze any property the three currently hold in the United States, and will prohibit any U.S. citizens from engaging in financial transactions with them.
"By designating the leaders of Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, OFAC is taking another step to ensure that terrorists are cut off from the international financial system and find it ever more difficult to carry out their acts of violence, no matter where they are based," OFAC Director Adam Szubin said in a Treasury Department statement.