Mumbai attacks mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and 12 of his close aides have been booked by Pakistani agencies for committing multiple offences of terrorism financing and money laundering through the massive funds collected through charities, as Islamabad faced intense international pressure to disrupt terror groups and curb terror funding.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police of Pakistan said on Wednesday that it has registered 23 FIRs under terrorism charges against 13 leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) in connection with “terror financing” after they detected “irrefutable evidence” against them.
The move comes as the United States, the United Kingdom, France and some other prominent countries voiced concern over Pakistan’s failure to do enough to contain terror funding on its soil.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which placed Pakistan on the grey list in June last year of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing, asked the country to complete its action plan against terror funding by October or face action.
The Paris-based global body, working to curb terrorism financing and money laundering, has asked Pakistan to reassess the operation of banned terrorist outfits in the country.
According to a statement of the CTD, “In its ongoing crackdown against terrorism financing by CTD Punjab Hafiz Saeed of JuD and other leaders booked in cases of terrorism financing.”
The cases have been registered in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terrorism financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/ Non Profit Organisations (NPO) including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawat ul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc, the CTD said.
It said a large scale investigation launched into financing matters of proscribed organisations JuD & Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in connection with implementation of UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities & Persons as directed by the NSC (National Security Committee) in its meeting on January 1, 2019 chaired by the Prime Minister Imran Khan for implementing National Action Plan.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The US declared the LeT as a foreign terrorist organisation in June 2014.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
The CTD said persons booked under terrorism charges are Saeed, Abdul Rehman Makki (deputy chief of the JuD), MaliK Zafar Iqbal, Ameer Hamza, Muhammad Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Naeem Sh, Mohsin Bilal, Abdul Raqeeb, Ahmad Daud, Muhammad Ayub, Abdullah
Ubaid, Muhammad Ali and Abdul Ghaffar and others.
The CTD said investigations have been launched into matters of JuD, LeT and FIF regarding their holding and use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing.
“They made these assets from funds of terrorism financing. They held and used these assets to raise more funds for further terrorism financing. Hence, they committed multiple offences of terrorism financing and money laundering under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. They will be prosecuted in ATCs (Anti Terrorism Courts) for commission of these offences.”
It said their assets/NPOs have already been taken over by the government in compliance with the UN Sanctions.
“Formal investigations on a large scale have been launched against the top leadership of the JuD for terror financing after the registration of FIRs against them during the last two days,” said a spokesperson for the CTD, Punjab.
According to the official, substantial and irreversible punitive/ legal action has been taken against them by the state, making these organisations “fully dysfunctional”.
Pakistani authorities in March sealed the Lahore headquarters of JuD and FIF and detained over 120 suspected militants as part of an ongoing crackdown on banned groups.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.