Hafiz Saeed indicted on terror-funding charges
Hafiz Saeed’s indictment came ahead of a FATF meeting early next year to decide whether to put Pakistan in its “black list” for its failure to curb terror financing.Updated: Dec 11, 2019, 23:33 IST
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Wednesday indicted Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and three Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) leaders on terror-financing charges.
The court ordered the government’s prosecution team to summon witnesses to pursue the case, according to a statement by prosecutor Abdur Rauf Wattoo. The statement added: “The counter-terrorism department had lodged a case against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed for illegal funding.”
Saeed’s lawyer Imran Gill confirmed his client was indicted along with Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Salam bin Muhammad and Muhammad Ashraf. The three others are officials of the JuD, declared a front of the LeT by the United Nations and the US.
Saeed and the others were presented before the judge under strict security. During the proceedings, Saeed’s lawyer presented arguments against the indictment.
Wattoo told the judge that Saeed and the others are involved in terror financing and the Counter-Terrorism Department of Punjab Police has presented evidence of this.
Anti-terrorism judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta, who is hearing the case, later adjourned proceedings till Thursday. As at previous hearings of the case, journalists were not allowed to enter the court complex.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body that monitors measures to curb terror financing and money laundering, has pressured Pakistan to crack down on fund-raising by groups such as LeT, JuD and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) after putting the country in its “grey list” last year.
As the pressure grew on Pakistan to reform its regulatory framework to counter terror groups or face isolation from the international financial system, authorities registered 23 cases in July against the leadership of LeT and JuD, including Saeed and his brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki.
Saeed was subsequently arrested and is currently being held at the high security Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore.
In March, Pakistan also formally banned the JuD and other associated organisations such as Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) after years of allowing them to work across the country.
JuD and FIF operated a network of schools, madrassas and dispensaries and hundreds of ambulances in all four Pakistani provinces.
Despite the US offering a $10 million bounty for Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the JuD chief has for long moved freely across Pakistan, addressing rallies and gatherings. He was briefly put under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks and again in January 2017 because of pressure from the US and the FATF but he was released on the orders of the Lahore high court.
Saeed’s indictment came ahead of a FATF meeting early next year to decide whether to put Pakistan in its “black list” for its failure to curb terror financing.