Pakistan tightens curbs on Dawood, Hafiz Saeed
Weeks ahead of an expected assessment of its counter terror-financing actions, Pakistan has tightened curbs on eight Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leaders, including the organisation’s founder Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim by taking steps to enforce UN sanctions against them.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry quietly issued two statutory regulatory orders on August 18 to enforce UN Security Council sanctions against hundreds of terrorists, including operatives of LeT, JeM, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqani Network and Islamic State, and 93 terrorist groups and entities.
The action appears to have clearly been taken with an eye on the upcoming assessment of Pakistan’s counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes by the Financial Action Task Force, which is expected to take place by October. FATF was scheduled to review Pakistan’s actions in June but the Paris-based watchdog pushed back the deadline by four months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In some cases, Pakistan hadn’t acted on UN sanctions imposed more than a decade ago despite growing pressure from Western countries, including the US. It also repeatedly failed to meet FATF’s deadlines to implement a 27-point action plan, and the watchdog has warned of harsher measures since Pakistan has addressed only 14 of the 27 points in the action plan.
The first statutory regulatory order issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office listed 88 entities, including terror groups, front organisations such as Al Rashid Trust that has been linked to al-Qaeda, and money exchange firms involved in terror financing, and hundreds of terrorists.
Besides Hafiz Saeed, the seven other LeT operatives named in the notification are Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the chief of operations and one of the main accused in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, the chief of finance, Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq, a Saudi national and leader of LeT in Saudi Arabia, Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, a founding member and deputy to Saeed, Zafar Iqbal, co-founder of the group who has held senior positions in its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), Mohammed Yahya Mujahid, a former spokesperson, and Arif Qasmani, who was associated with al-Qaeda.
The first notification also listed JeM chief Masood Azhar, and Abdur Rehman, who has provided facilitation and financial services to al-Qaeda and was associated with Harakat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI) and JeM.
It also lists Dawood Ibrahim, wanted by India for the 1993 Mumbai bombings, and gives three different addresses in Karachi given for him by the UN Security Council. This is possibly the first Pakistani document that lists addresses for Ibrahim in the country. In the past, Pakistan has always dismissed assertions by India and other countries that Ibrahim is based in Karachi.
The second notification listed prominent Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders such as Abdul Ghani Baradar alias Mullah Baradar, Siraj Haqqani, Bakht Gul and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai. Baradar and Stanekzai are key members of the Taliban team that is currently negotiating with the US.
The two notifications ratified the UN Security’s Council’s call for freezing the assets of the terrorist individuals and terror entities, banning the travel of the terrorist individuals and ensuring that they cannot access any weapons, ammunition and military equipment.
The notifications ordered the seizure of all movable and immovable properties of these groups and individuals, and freezing of bank accounts. They were also barred from transferring money through financial institutions.
Saeed was convicted by a court in Lahore and given a five-and-a-half-year prison term in two terror financing cases in February. Lakhvi, one of the seven men arrested by Pakistani authorities for the Mumbai attacks, was granted bail in April 2015 and his current whereabouts aren’t known.