Does the U.S. consider Nepal’s prime minister a global terrorist?

On Sunday, Baburam Bhattarai of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal — generally referred to as the Maoists — was elected prime minister. The Maoists gave up their decade-long armed rebellion after a 2006 peace deal that Bhattarai helped negotiate. But the integration of 19,000 former fighters back into society and the details of a ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Baburam Bhattarai of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal -- generally referred to as the Maoists -- was elected prime minister. The Maoists gave up their decade-long armed rebellion after a 2006 peace deal that Bhattarai helped negotiate. But the integration of 19,000 former fighters back into society and the details of a new constitution remain sticking points in the efforts to create permanent democratic institutions. The Maoists are also, it turns out, still considered a terrorist group by the United States.

The State Department has sent out a clarifying email on the issue in response to a question at today's press briefing:

 

On Sunday, Baburam Bhattarai of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal — generally referred to as the Maoists — was elected prime minister. The Maoists gave up their decade-long armed rebellion after a 2006 peace deal that Bhattarai helped negotiate. But the integration of 19,000 former fighters back into society and the details of a new constitution remain sticking points in the efforts to create permanent democratic institutions. The Maoists are also, it turns out, still considered a terrorist group by the United States.

The State Department has sent out a clarifying email on the issue in response to a question at today’s press briefing:

 

QUESTION: With the inclusion of Maoists in the newly-formed government in Nepal, is the U.S. considering lifting the FTO designation from these Maoist groups?

ANSWER: The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is not included on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list, but remains a designated Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 and is included on the Terrorism Exclusion List, pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. While the Party has taken some positive steps, we continue to have areas of concern which must be addressed before the Party could be de-listed.

What does that mean exactly? According to the State Department website:

Individual aliens providing support to or associated with TEL-designated organizations may be found “inadmissable” to the U.S., i.e., such aliens may be prevented from entering the U.S. or, if already in U.S. territory, may in certain circumstances be deported.

So I’m guessing there’ll be no Oval Office meet-and-greet for Bhattarai.

The Maoists are in pretty odd company on the list, which includes several obscure European leftist groups like Italy’s Revolutionary Proletarian Nucleus, now-defunct rebel armies like Sierra Leone’s RUF, and a Yemeni honey company once associated with Osama bin Laden.

Delisting may be a useful carrot to hold onto with regards to the Maoists, but generally speaking, it may be time for an audit of the list.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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