Pak­istan bans char­i­ties linked to Mum­bai mas­sacre ter­ror­ist Hafiz Saeed

Jerusalem Post - - REGIONAL NEWS - • By ASIF SHAHZAD

IS­LAM­ABAD (Reuters) – Pak­istan has banned two char­i­ties linked to Is­lamist leader Hafiz Saeed, an of­fi­cial said on Wed­nes­day, in a move against the UN-des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist who the United States says was be­hind an at­tack on Mum­bai in 2008 that killed 166 peo­ple and wounded more than 600.

Au­thor­i­ties had be­gun seiz­ing con­trol of of­fices and fi­nan­cial as­sets of the char­i­ties, an­other of­fi­cial said.

The ac­tion comes days be­fore a meet­ing by the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force, a global money laun­der­ing watch­dog, which will con­sider a US-spon­sored mo­tion to place Pak­istan on a list of coun­tries fail­ing to pre­vent ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing.

The op­er­a­tions in Pak­istan of Saeed’s ex­ten­sive net­work – which in­cludes 300 sem­i­nar­ies and schools, hos­pi­tals, a pub­lish­ing house and am­bu­lance ser­vices – has been a par­tic­u­lar con­cern of the United States.

Pun­jab prov­ince’s law min­is­ter, Rana Sanaullah, said the cen­tral In­te­rior Min­istry had is­sued a no­ti­fi­ca­tion against the two char­i­ties, Ja­maat-udDawa and the Falah-e-In­sa­niat Foun­da­tion, this week.

“We have re­ceived the In­te­rior Min­istry di­rec­tions, and ac­cord­ing to that, Hafiz Saeed and his char­i­ties, like JuD and FIF, have been banned to op­er­ate in Pak­istan,” Sanaullah told Reuters.

The United States has la­beled Ja­maat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-In­sa­niat Foun­da­tion “ter­ror­ist fronts” for Lashkar-e-Taiba (“Army of the Pure”), a group Saeed founded in 1987 that the United States and In­dia blame for the bloody at­tacks on the In­dian city of Mum­bai, in­clud­ing on the lo­cal Chabad House.

Saeed has re­peat­edly de­nied in­volve­ment in the at­tacks. A Pak­istani court freed him from house ar­rest last year af­ter rul­ing there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to con­vict him.

Pak­istan drew up plans late last year to take over Saeed’s char­i­ties in a se­cret or­der first re­ported by Reuters.

In the city of Rawalpindi, in Pun­jab prov­ince, district of­fi­cers had be­gun tak­ing over the char­i­ties’ of­fices, a city of­fi­cial said.

“We’ve taken over all the JuD and FIF as­sets. We’ve com­pleted the takeover,” Rawalpindi com­mis­sioner Nadeem As­lam told Reuters.

As­lam said he did not have an ex­act num­ber of of­fices and sem­i­nar­ies in­volved in the as­set seizure, but data were be­ing com­piled in all four dis­tricts of Rawalpindi di­vi­sion and he ex­pected full de­tails of the as­sets.

A spokes­men for Ja­maatud-Dawa de­clined to make an im­me­di­ate com­ment but said a state­ment would be is­sued. Of­fi­cials at the Falah-e-In­sa­niat Foun­da­tion could not be reached for com­ment, nor could Saeed him­self, who rarely speaks to the me­dia.

Pak­istan has banned Lashkar-e-Taiba but its char­ity wings, Ja­maat-ud-Dawa and the Falah-e-In­sa­niat Foun­da­tion, have been op­er­at­ing.

The United States has of­fered $10 mil­lion for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest and con­vic­tion of Saeed, who heads Ja­maat-ud-Dawa, which Wash­ing­ton says is a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pak­istani of­fi­cials in­volved in the seizures of as­sets said fail­ure to act against the char­i­ties could lead to Pak­istan’s in­clu­sion on the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force watch list.

That would make it harder for for­eign­ers to do busi­ness in the nu­clear-armed South Asian na­tion.

Pak­istan’s de facto fi­nance min­is­ter, Mif­tah Is­mail, told Reuters the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force would con­sider a mo­tion to place Pak­istan on the list but the gov­ern­ment was “hope­ful” it could make its case to avoid it.

Pak­istan was on the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force watch list from 2012 to 2015.

(Caren Firouz/Reuters)

HAFIZ SAEED, chief of the banned Is­lamic char­ity Ja­mat-udDawa, is seen in 2016.

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