The Gulf kingdom of Bahrain on Monday published a list of 68 Islamist groups it classified as “terrorist,” according to the state news agency BNA.
Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement, already branded as “terrorist” by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, topped the list approved by Bahrain’s cabinet, BNA said.
Also on the list was al-Qaeda and its branches in Yemen and North Africa, as well as al-Nusra Front in Syria and the Islamic State group (IS).
Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Egypt’s Islamic Jihad and al-Murabitoun in Mali are also on the list.
Also included are the little-known al-Ashtar Brigades and Resistance Brigades, as well as the clandestine February 14 Coalition, all believed to be Shiite groups in Bahrain.
A similar list already issued by the United Arab Emirates includes 83 groups.
Last month a Saudi-led bloc of six Gulf Arab nations formally branded Hezbollah a terrorist organization, amid the continued deterioration of relations between Hezbollah’s Shiite backer Iran and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia. Gulf monarchies had already sanctioned Hezbollah in 2013 in reprisal for its armed intervention in Syria in support of embattled President Bashar Assad.
A week later the 22-member Arab League followed suit.
The move by the Gulf Cooperation Council came less than two weeks after Saudi Arabia announced it was cutting $4 billion in aid to Lebanese security forces. The kingdom and other Gulf states followed up that move by urging its citizens to leave Lebanon, dealing a blow to the tiny nation’s tourism industry.
After the decision Bahrain deported several Lebanese residents for links to Hezbollah
“A number of Lebanese residents have been deported after it was confirmed that they belonged to and supported terrorist Hezbollah,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its Twitter account.
The ministry did not provide any further details, including on the number of people involved. Lebanese press reported last week that up to 10 families had been ordered to leave Bahrain within 24 hours.
In January, Bahrain said it had dismantled a “terror” cell allegedly linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.
Shiite-majority Bahrain, which is ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty, has repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in its affairs, a charge categorically denied by Tehran.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are all partners in the US-led coalition that is bombing IS militants in Syria and Iraq.