The U.S. government has named Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, the religious group banned in their home country, as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
The designation has implications for U.S. security policy in Tunisia.
According to a State Department press release, it is now illegal under U.S. law to provide material support to or engage in transactions with the organization. All Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia property or funds under control of the United States are also frozen as a result.
“Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, which is ideologically aligned with Al Qaeda and tied to its affiliates, including AQIM, represents the greatest threat to U.S. interests in Tunisia,” the statement said.
Ansar al-Sharia branches in Benghazi and Darnah, regions in Libya, were also deemed terrorist organizations. The U.S. government alleges the groups’ involvement in the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of four U.S. citizens including the ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
In a separate release, the U.S. embassy in Tunisia cautioned Americans in Tunisia to take extra precautions in light of this designation and the anniversary of the departure of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali next Tuesday.