UN rejects Hafiz Saeed’s appeal to remove name from list of banned terrorists: Sources

The decision comes at a time when the United Nations’ 1267 Sanctions Committee has received a new request to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar after the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
The UN decision to reject Hafiz Saeed’s appeal came after India provided detailed evidence including “highly confidential information” about his activities, sources told PTI.(AP/File Photo)
The UN decision to reject Hafiz Saeed’s appeal came after India provided detailed evidence including “highly confidential information” about his activities, sources told PTI.(AP/File Photo)
Updated on Mar 07, 2019 09:02 PM IST
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Washington | ByYashwant Raj

The UN Security Council has turned down the request of Hafiz Saeed, the founder and leader of Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, to remove him from the world body’s list of sanctioned terrorists, as the wait continues to add Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar to that group.

Saeed and his counsel were formally informed in Pakistan Wednesday that his request had been rejected by the ombudsman of the UNSC body that lists terrorists under Resolution 1267, more than two years after they petitioned for delisting, according to people familiar with the process.

India, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Afghanistan had opposed Saeed’s delisting in separate submissions.

Pakistan, where Saeed lives and operates freely, had sent no submissions, either in support of his petition or in opposition, and had refused to cooperate with the Ombudsman’s office. Islamabad also refused to grant visas to UN officials to travel to Pakistan to interview him, according to the same people.

Islamabad’s silence was clearly not a sign of its opposition to his delisting — “else they would have said so in writing as India and the others” — but one of acquiescence with his petition. “And all this happened on the watch of the present government,” said one of the above people, adding, “Imran Khan’s new Pakistan is no different from the old Pakistan.”

Also read: Pakistan rejects visa requests of UN team to interview 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed

Saeed’s petition was rejected chiefly on two grounds, though plenty other were cited as well in Ombudsman’s order that runs into several pages. To Saeed’s main plea that he be delisted as he had been cleared of terrorism charge by Pakistan’s courts, the UN Ombudsman said, according to people who had seen the order, that Saeed had been freed of charges accusing him of terrorism in Pakistan, not those that he carried out outside, in other countries.

And, two, the ruling said, Saeed remains the head of LeT and its front Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and therefore there is a clear linkage between their activities and his.

Saeed was listed as terrorists by the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the levant — another name of Islamic State) and al Qaeda Sanctions Committee set by Resolution 1267 — which is also considering a proposal move by France, the United States and the United Kingdom to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Azhar, after the Pulwama attack carried out by the outfit. This is the fourth attempt to sanction him and a decision is expected next week.

Saeed’s listing took place on 10 December 2008, a month after the Mumbai terrorist attacks carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba, for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts of activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” both entities (LeT and al Qaeda).

The UN listing said Saeed also headed Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an LeT front. And, it added: he was trained in Afghanistan in the late 1970s or the early 1980s, and “came into contact with Dr. Abdullah Azzam, the mentor of Usama (Osama) bin Laden (deceased) and other fighters in Afghanistan”.

Saeed personally picked where graduates of a LeT camp in Pakistan should be sent to fight, and organized the infiltration of LeT militants into Iraq during a trip to Saudi Arabia. He also sent operatives to Europe to raise funds and established an office in Quetta, Pakistan in June 2006 to assist the Taliban.

His designation process had started before the Mumbai attacks.

Saeed carries a bounty of $10 million for his arrest and prosecution announced some years ago by the United States, which has been frustrated by his ability to operate freely in Pakistan. The US had strongly warned Pakistan of “repercussions” after he was released from house arrest in 2017.

Islamabad refused to arrest him again and a few weeks later, the Trump administration announced it was cancelling all security aid to Pakistan for failing to take decisive action against terrorists outfits operating from it soil, something it reiterated multiple times after the Pulwama attack in February.

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