The US State Department has removed the ETA terrorist group from its official list of foreign terrorist organizations, as announced in a statement on Friday, May 20.

The official list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) is drawn up by the Secretary of State in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, and according to US diplomacy itself, it plays “a fundamental role in the fight against terrorism and it is an effective means of reducing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to cease terrorist activity.”

ETA has been on that list since 1997, when it was added with other terrorist groups, such as Hamas or Hezbollah. Every five years the State Department must review the members, and see if there has been terrorist activity by them.

Now, apart from ETA, other groups such as the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo, the Mujahideen Shura Council, from Iraq, Kahane Chai, from Israel, and Gama’a al-Islamiyya, from Egypt, have left this list.

All these organizations, including the Basque terrorist group, continue to be sanctioned within another list that depends not on diplomacy but on the presidency.

According to a statement from Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, “the five organizations are no longer involved in terrorism or terrorist activity and do not retain the ability or intent to do so.”

Adds Price that ‚Äúthese reversals do not seek to overlook or excuse the terrorist acts in which each of these groups previously participated or the damage that the organizations caused to their victims, but rather to recognize the success that Egypt, Israel, Japan and Spain to defuse the threat of terrorism. This decision, Price says, “does not reflect any change in policy toward the past activities of any of these terrorists or the organizations of which they were members.”