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'JuD transferred money out of most bank accounts'

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), has been able to transfer money out of most of its public bank accounts, negating the impact of the crackdown by Pakistan, a WSJ report said on Sunday.

world Updated: Dec 14, 2008 22:41 IST

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which was labelled a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council for its links to the Mumbai carnage, has been able to transfer money out of most of its public bank accounts, negating the impact of the crackdown by Pakistan, a media report said on Sunday.

The dismantling of the Islamic charity linked to the Mumbai terror attacks is being seriously hampered by Pakistan's difficulties in tracking and seizing millions of dollars the group is believed to have stashed in bank accounts in Pakistan and abroad, the Wall Street Journal said on Sunday.

The public lead-up to the UN action gave the group ample time to transfer money out of most of its public bank accounts, an unidentified Pakistani finance ministry official was quoted by the US Journal as saying.

The official estimated that the group has moved hundreds of thousands of dollars, "maybe millions" in recent days.

"If we don't take away money, it can reopen any time," the official told the paper. "The money in Pakistan is hidden now. We won't find it."

Jamaat officials, who last week invited reporters to tour their complex outside Lahore and see some of their social-service programmes in action, have been unavailable to comment since Thursday's clampdown; many were either detained or being sought by Pakistani authorities, the Journal said.

As of Friday afternoon, the Journal said, at least one Jamaat-ud-Dawa account remained open for supporters to deposit donations, "at least for the moment."

People who wished could still deposit money at a Lahore branch of Bank Alfalah Ltd., a small lender part-owned by investors in Abu Dhabi, said the bank's operations officer, who, the paper said, would give his name only as Ali.

The Pakistani bank official said neither Jamaat nor the government had asked him to shut the account, which was in the name of Markaz Jamat-ud-Dawa. Markaz means the "headquarters of" in Urdu.

Other bank officials, including at its main office in Karachi, didn't respond to requests to comment, the Journal said.

Pakistan's central bank ordered all of Jamaat's assets frozen and accounts closed on Thursday, and Pakistani officials said they believed banks were complying with the order, but wouldn't elaborate or comment directly on the Alfalah account, it added. The account has been open since at least 2005, when fliers urged people to give money to it during the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha.

In Pakistan, Europe and the US, Jamaat has asked donors since 2005 to deposit funds at Bank Alfalah in the name of a separate charity, Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq or IKK, which the US State Department identified in 2006 as an alias for Jamaat, the Journal quoted counter-terrorism officials.

US supporters of the Jamaat have been urged to wire dollars to IKK through the Bank of New York, according to a 2006 snapshot of the Web page captured by terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann, an expert on Lashkar who frequently testifies in criminal cases involving the group, the paper said.

A Bank of New York spokesman said no donations were ever transmitted through the account. On the same page, donations in euros were solicited in Europe through a bank in Munich, the US daily said.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, said investigations into Jamaat's assets and funding are now under way.

He said authorities are moving quickly to shut down offices and militant training camps, but added: "The government is not tracking everyone's accounts, frankly speaking."

First Published: Dec 14, 2008 22:02 IST