In a terror funding case, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court sentenced five leaders of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) to nine years in prison each.
For the first time since the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore pronounced its verdict in the terror funding cases reported by the Punjab police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), three of them, Umar Bahadar, Nasarullah, and Samiullah, have been convicted.
The other two JuD spokespersons, Yahya Mujahid and senior leader Prof Zafar Iqbal had already been convicted in other terror funding cases and had also served lengthy prison sentences.
ATC Lahore Judge Ejaz Ahmad Buttar sentenced each of them to nine years in prison. In the same case, the judge sentenced Saeed’s brother-in-law, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, to six months in prison.
“The founders of the JuD/LeT were found guilty of terrorist funding by the judge. They had been illegally gathering funds and funding the banned organization, LeT. (Lashkar-e-Taiba). The court has also ordered the forfeiture of properties obtained through terrorism funding “According to the CTD,
The JuD leaders were introduced in court under tight surveillance, with the press barred from covering the proceedings.
In terror funding cases, the Punjab Police CTD had filed 41 FIRs against JuD leaders, including 70-year-old Saeed. So far, the trial courts have ruled on 37 of them.
In five cases so far, the ATC has sentenced the LeT maker, Saeed, to a total of 36 years in jail on terror financing charges under sections 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. Saeed’s sentences will be served simultaneously. That means he won’t be incarcerated for a long time. Along with other convicted JuD leaders, he is completing his sentence in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.
Led by Saeed The LeT is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attack, which killed 166 people, including six Americans. JuD is the front organization for the LeT. Saeed, an UN-designated terrorist for whom the US has set a USD 10 million bounty, was apprehended in terror funding cases on July 17, 2019.
Saeed has been classified as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Treasury Department. In December 2008, he was added to the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 list.
On three counts in a terror funding case, the ATC Lahore sentenced LeT operation commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi to 15 years in prison jointly. His sentence in three counts (five years each) will run concurrently, so he will have to spend five years in prison.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog on terrorist funding, has been instrumental in pressing Islamabad to take action against terrorists living freely in Pakistan and using its territories to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere.
In June 2018, the Paris-based FATF put Pakistan on the Grey List and demanded that Islamabad enact a plan of action to combat money laundering and terrorist funding by the end of 2019, but the deadline was later extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan was put on the FATF’s Grey List in February and will remain there until June.
Pakistan’s continued inclusion on the “grey list” may make it more difficult for the country to obtain financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank, exacerbating the country’s cash-strapped situation.