WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it designated Iyad ag Ghali as a terrorist leader for working with al-Qaida operatives in Mali.
The Malian government last month called on France to help stop foreign and al-Qaida fighters. Control over northern Mali was lost to militants following an early 2012 coup.
Foreign fighters from the Tuareg nomad group and those with Ansar Dine have fought alongside al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in northern Mali.
The State Department listed Ghali as the founder of Ansar Dine, which it says received AQIM support when it captured key northern cities in Mali last year.
"Before the French intervention in January 2013, Malian citizens in towns that had been under Ansar Dine's control who did not comply with Ansar Dine's laws had faced harassment, torture or execution," the State Department said.
Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci told the U.N. Human Rights Council that his government has its own concerns about regional instability.
"Algeria is seriously concerned about the violations committed against the people of North Mali, and urged the international community to put an end to human rights violations which jeopardized the integrity and peace in Mali," he said.
Terrorists sympathetic to al-Qaida stormed the In Amenas natural gas complex in eastern Algeria last month in response to Algeria's support for the French military intervention in Mali.