Six more groups are added to US terror blacklist

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Northern Irish groups make up five of the six newcomers the United States has added to a growing list of organisations that it has designated as friendly to terrorism. The US has ordered their assets to be frozen without delay.

The action, approved by the Secretary of State Colin Powell, was taken in concert with the European Union, which identified the same six when it issued its own list of groups with links to terror last week. The EU's decision was warmly applauded by Washington.

The US has moved to shut down the assets of more than 100 individuals, businesses and organisations in a little over three months. Such aggressive tactics became possible after the signing of an executive order by President George Bush in the wake of the 11 September terror attacks on American soil.

There was no indication that the six being targeted this week had any connection with the 11 September attacks. Nor was it clear that any of them had any assets in the US, which would make the American move against them more symbolic than practical.

The Northern Irish groups include four Protestant outfits named as: Loyalist Volunteer Force, Orange Volunteers, Red Hand Defenders and Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters. Also on the list was the Continuity Irish Republican Army, a Northern Irish Catholic group. The sixth group is the First of October Antifascist Resistance Group, or Grapo, which has been active in Spain.

The US is pressing governments around the world to starve alleged terrorism cells of funds. At the UN, meanwhile, the British ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, is heading a new committee trying to get all UN members to enact similar legislation to target groups with terrorist ties.