By Julian Pecquet - 03/21/13 08:02 PM EDT
The State Department on Thursday designated Mali's Ansar al-Dine as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, banning American residents and corporations from providing material support for the group and blocking its property in U.S. jurisdiction.
Ansar al-Dine has been linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The group was formed in 2011 by Iyad ag Ghali, who was designated a terrorist last month.
Al-Dine was behind the takeover of several Malian towns, including Gao and Timbuktu, last year. The group's push southward and the conservative Islamist laws it imposed in its wake prompted France to intervene in January with aerial and intelligence support from the United States.