US outlaws funding to named terrorist groups

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The United States yesterday designated 30 groups as foreign terrorist organisations, making it illegal to provide funds for them and denying their members or representatives US visas. It did not include the IRA.

Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State, announcing the move mandated by a 1996 US law, said the goal was to "make the United States fully a no-support-for-terrorism zone". The law makes it an offence to provide funds or other material support to the groups named yesterday; denies US visas to "aliens abroad who are members or representatives" of the groups; and requires US financial institutions to block funds under their control that belong to the groups.

The list includes the Islamic resistance organisation Hamas, the Basque group ETA, the pro-Iranian Hizbollah organisation, the Iranian Mujahedin- e Khalq, Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and Peru's Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

James Rubin, a State Department spokesman, said that although the IRA was not on the list, the US intended to keep it "under active review".

Northern Ireland Unionists last night said leaving the IRA off the list was a huge mistake which would return to haunt the US. Ken Maginnis, the Ulster Unionist Party security spokesman, accused the Clinton administration of being "slow to learn" and said it would not be the first time his administration had ended up embarrassing itself.