Washington: Indian Mujahideen is the first India-based terrorist group to be designated as foreign terrorist group by the US and is a lethal terrorist outfit, US officials said.

"They are a very lethal terrorist group in their own right in India. They have carried out a number of attacks within India's borders on innocent civilians, and although not confirmed, there's a suspicion that they were responsible for the recent bombings in Mumbai on July 13," Mark Toner, State Department spokesman, said.

The sanction slapped on Indian Mujahideen by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sends a very clear message to the world that the US considers this to be an international terrorist organization.

He said the US and India would continue to work closely.

"Frankly it’s India that bears the brunt of these attacks. We have a robust strategic dialogue with India. They are a close ally and partner. One of the elements of that is close counterterrorism cooperation," Toner said in response to a question.

"Yes, this (Indian Mujahideen) is the first Indian-based group the Department has designated as a FTO," a State Department official said.

However, two other separatist groups - Babbar KhalsaInternational and International Sikh Youth Foundation were slapped sanctions under the Executive Order 13224 terrorist groups in June 2002.

There are two kinds of designations by the US for terrorists. Groups can be designated as FTO under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Under Executive Order 13224 a wider range of entities, including terrorist groups, individuals acting as part of a terrorist organization, and other entities such as financiers and front companies, can be designated as Specially Designated
Global Terrorists (SDGTs).

"The consequences of these designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing material support or resources to, or engaging in other transactions with Indian Mujahideen, and freezing of all property and interests in property of the organization that are in the US, or come within the US, or the control of US persons," the official said.

Under the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), it is unlawful for a person in the US or subject to its jurisdiction to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO.

Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the US.

Further any US financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the  Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury.
   
Designation of FTO supports its efforts to curb terrorism financing and to encourage other nations to do the same; stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations internationally and deters donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations.

The legal criteria for designating FTO are that it must be foreign based; engages in terrorist activity or terrorism, or retains the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism and the terrorist activity or terrorism of the organization threatens the security of US nationals or its national security.

(Agencies)