WASHINGTON: The U.S. State Department said on Thursday it had named the al-Qaida Kurdish Battalions (AQKB), which operates along the Iran-Iraq border and has attacked Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government offices, as a specially designated global terrorist entity.
The department said the decision freezes any assets AQKB holds under U.S. jurisdiction and bars U.S. persons from carrying out transactions with it, a step designed to help reduce the flow of financial or other assistance to the group.
In a written statement, the State Department said that AQKB was established in 2007 from the remnants of other Kurdish "terrorist organizations" and has sworn allegiance to militant groups including al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq.
It said AQKB has claimed responsibility for attacks against Kurdish targets in Iraq, including a 2007 attack in which 19 people were killed when a vehicle loaded with explosives struck the Kurdish Ministries of the Interior and Security in Arbil.
Nine years after the U.S.-led invasion, much of Iraq is still plagued by Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, but Iraqi Kurdistan has enjoyed relative peace and prosperity after successfully rising up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and achieving federal autonomy under Iraq's 2005 constitution.