An anti-terrorism court in Lahore on Saturday announced that it would indict Jamat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and other leaders of his outfits who were booked this July under charges of terror financing. The indictment will take place on December 7.
Under pressure from the international community, Pakistan has been trying to investigate matters pertaining to the functioning and funding of the LeT, its charitable wing the JuD and its other branches in a bid to convince Paris-based watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), that it is taking enough steps to stop terror financing. At the moment, Pakistan has been placed in FATF’s grey list, making it difficult for the country to raise money on the bond market.
Who is Hafiz Saeed
Hafiz Saeed is the founder and leader of the Islamist terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that follows the Ahle-Hadith interpretation of Islam. Its goals are largely aligned with that of Pakistan, including the liberation of Kashmir from India. Saeed is also the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Other attacks that LeT has been involved in include the 2001 shootout at Parliament House in New Delhi and, most recently, the 2016 attack on the military headquarters in Uri.
In 2012, in order to support India in its attempt to extradite Saeed, the US State Department offered a bounty of up to $10 million for any information that could lead to his arrest or conviction. Moreover, the US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist since 2012.
In the past few years, Saeed has been arrested on multiple occasions. In January 2017, he was arrested by the Pakistani government in connection with raising funds for JuD, thereby violating UN sanctions. He was, however, released in November 2017 when the courts refused to extend the duration of his house arrest due to lack of evidence. Most recently, Saeed was arrested in July 2019 by Pakistani authorities on charges of terror financing. Since then he has been detained in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.
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What is the case against him
Under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, Saeed along with other leaders of the JuD were booked in July in over two dozen cases for terror financing and money laundering registered by the state’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan. In the 23 FIRs registered against Saeed and his accomplices, the charges included allegations that JuD was financing terrorism by collecting funds from various non-profit organisations and international Islamist charities including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust and Muaz Bin Jabal Trust among others.
According to Stanford University’s Centre International Security and Co-operation (CISC), LeT’s fundraising efforts are “diverse and systematic” and it is not uncommon to find donation boxes for the group in Pakistani markets. It adds that a type of fundraising method that is unique to LeT is collecting animal skins from religious sacrifices and subsequently selling them in tanneries. As per a Dawn report, JuD earned over $1.2 million from the sale of hides in 2009. ISI and the Pakistani government too help the LeT bring in funds, with the LeT believed to have fund-raising offices in Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and the Gulf region, as per CISC.