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US bans Lashkar front group

The US tightened the screws on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba on Wednesday, on the eve of the second anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, naming its front organisation Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation as an alias.

world Updated: Nov 25, 2010 23:53 IST
Yashwant Raj

The US tightened the screws on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba on Wednesday, on the eve of the second anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, naming its front organisation Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation as an alias.

Foundation leaders such as the current head Hafiz Abdur Rauf, LeT traders' department chief Mian Abdullah and a key financial facilitator for the Lashkar Mohammad Naushdad Alam Khan were named global terrorists.

"LeT has attempted to use FIF as a way to evade scrutiny," said state department's counterterrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin announcing the naming, "This designation will help put to an end that attempted evasion."

LeT, which was designated a terrorist organisation by the US in 2001 and by the UN in 2005, was behind the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people, including 5 Americans.

It's best known operative yet Pakistani American David Coleman Headley has pleaded guilty to being a key conspirator to the Mumbai attacks and is currently cooperating with US authorities.

As a banned outfit, Lashkar cannot openly seek donations. It floats fronts from time to time to go around the ban — and get funds mostly from the Pakistani diaspora abroad. Jamat ud dawa was one such outfit.

The Jamat was first noticed for its relief and rehabilitation work among survivors of the October 2005 earthquake that left 75,000 dead in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. It was soon flooded with donations.

Security officials have long held that most of this money was used for funding Lashkar terrorist activities, almost completely targeted against India. The Jamat was banned by both he US and Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks.

Officials said Falah-i-Insaniyat was a front like the Jamat, to collect donations.

"As of mid-2009, LeT was using the name FIF to fundraise and evade international pressure on LeT following the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai," said the US treasury department, which designates organisations or individuals as terrorists to disrupt their funding.