Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Wednesday designated the leader of an Iran-backed militia that recently killed an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military as a Global Terrorist.
The State Department announced the designation of Ahmad al-Hamidawi, the leader of Kata'ib Hezbollah, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist to deny him "the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks," it said in a statement. The designation blocks all his property within the United States and bars U.S. citizens from doing business with him.
Kata'ib Hezbollah, a terrorist group active in Syria and Iraq, has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, the State Department said.
Most recently, the militia, which the United States designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in July 2009, conducted a rocket attack on Dec. 27 against an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk, killing Nawres Hamid, a U.S. contractor working for the Pentagon, and injuring four U.S. soldiers. The United States responded with airstrikes on five sites in western Iraq and eastern Syria that the Popular Mobilization Units, which Kata'ib Hezbollah is a part of, said killed at least 25 people.
The militia is also held responsible for conducting a sniper attack on protesters in Baghdad, killing 100 people and injuring 6,000 more.
"Today's designation notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Ahmad al-Hamidawi has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism," the State Department said. "Designations of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate them and deny them access to the U.S. financial system."
The State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales told reporters during a press conference Wednesday he wouldn't comment on whether Kata'ib Hezbollah posed any imminent threats to the United States but that now is the right time to increase pressure on the terrorist group.
"I think we can take them at their word that they see the United States as an avowed enemy, and that's why we're amping up our financial pressure on them, to starve them of resources," he said.
The designation was issued under Trump's amendment to Executive Order 13224 that allows the State Department to blacklist leaders of terrorist groups without needing to connect them directly to specific terrorist acts.