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US hits Islamist group in Mali with sanctions

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MATTHEW LEE | December 7, 2012 10:33 AM EST | AP


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is imposing sanctions on a radical, Mali-based Islamist group and two of its top leaders.

The State Department and the Treasury on Friday blacklisted the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa as a specially designated foreign terrorist group, which freezes any assets its members may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bans Americans from doing business with them. The designation also applies to the group's two main founders, Hamad el Khairy, and Ahmed el Tilemsi.

The group was created in September 2011 as an offshoot of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and is accused of numerous terrorist attacks and kidnappings of aid workers and diplomats in northern Mali and Algeria.