Pak gets UNSC to grant Hafiz Saeed access to bank account
Pakistan approached a UN Security Council sanctions committee with a request to allow Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed to access $1,000 a month from his frozen bank accounts to cover what Islamabad described as “necessary basic living expenses” for his family.
The UN 1267 sanctions committee approved Pakistan’s request to allow Saeed, LeT finance chief Muhammad Ashraf and Zafar Iqbal, a co-founder of the terror group, to access funds from their bank accounts after there were no objections from members of the committee by the deadline of August 15.
Saeed, now chief of the UN-designated terror group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, was sanctioned in December 2008 by the 1267 sanctions committee after the Mumbai attacks by 10 LeT members that killed 166 people, including foreign nationals. Four years later, the US announced a $10 million bounty for information leading to his arrest.
The JuD chief tried to get off the UN list earlier this year but the attempt was firmly blocked.
In a request to the UN Security Council panel overseeing enforcement of sanctions against terrorists such as the Mumbai terror attacks mastermind, Pakistan said one of the bank accounts frozen on the UN’s orders was the one where Saeed’s government pension – he was once a college professor before he made terror his full-time business -- was deposited.
“However, his bank account was blocked by the government of Pakistan under compliance with UNSC resolution 1267, requesting an asset freeze exemption to access frozen funds in the amount of Rs 1,50,000 (USD 1,000) to cover the necessary basic living expenses for himself and his family,” Pakistan’s request to the UN panel said. The amount is equivalent to or Indian Rs 68,000.
The request was formally accepted by the 1267 sanctions committee.
A UN diplomat said the formal approval was practically an automatic process at the UN committee’s level as the government concerned, in this case Pakistan, supported the release of funds of a sanctioned individual for “basic expenses”.
Pakistan’s request backing Saeed’s claim, that he needed money for basic expenses, was filed just a month after the LeT founder was taken into custody for terror financing.
Indian officials said Pakistan’s hard push to let Saeed access Rs 1,50,000 from his bank accounts is important for three reasons.
First, it highlights the nexus between Islamabad and jihadists in Pakistan who are backed by the official machinery. Second, it confirms India’s understanding and information about Saeed’s clout in the Pakistani security establishment. Third, people familiar with the developments said it is a “hugely symbolic move” that is seen to support Saeed’s claims that he is not the terrorist mastermind that Indian agencies accuse him to be, but just another “retired college professor” with a family to support.
The Pakistan request identified 69-year-old Saeed’s family members dependent on him as wife Iffat Idrees, 42, two sons Ismael, 10, and eight-year-old Shoaib, and six-year-old daughter Sumaiyyah.
It also said that of the total amount of Rs 1,50,000 to be released to Saeed every month, Rs 50,000 would come from the official pension and the remaining Rs 1,00,000 as “support from son Hafiz Talha Saeed”.