Wilting under the pressure of a crackdown by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) held Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed guilty of “terror financing” in a Pakistani court Wednesday.
Saeed, against whom Pakistan has lodged 23 cases on charges of terrorist financing, was presented before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Gujranwala amid high security. PTI quoted a CTD official as saying that the department had submitted challan in the ATC declaring Saeed guilty of terror financing.
Pakistan’s Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has registered cases against Saeed and a dozen members of his groups in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terror financing through assets or properties in the names of trusts or non-profit organisations.
“Since the case is related to Mandi Bhauddin district of Punjab, therefore, the prosecution requested the court to shift it to Gujrat ATC court (some 200 km from Lahore),” the official said. The official said next hearing of the case would be held in the Gujrat ATC.
The JuD chief was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to get pre-arrest bail when he was arrested on July 17. Saeed was lodged at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore under high security.
The decision to book Saeed came days after the G-20 declaration at the Osaka summit on June 28-29 gave primacy to the FATF’s “essential role” and called for the effective implementation of its standards.
Following the “pressure” exerted on Pakistan by the global watchdog, Islamabad had expedited the process of arresting Saeed and lodged several cases against him.
OPINION | The saga of Hafiz Saeed
According to CTD, on July 1 and 2, it registered the 23 cases against the leadership of JuD (Jamat ud Dawa), LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) & FIF (Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation) for making assets from terror financing through the following trusts and non-profit organisations: Dawat ul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, Al-Anfaal Trust, Al Hamd Trust and Al Madina Foundation Trust.
Apart from Saeed, CTD also named other leaders of JuD & LeT who have been booked, including his aides Abdul Rehman Makki, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Ameer Hamza, Muhammad Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Mohsin Bilal, Abdul Raqeeb, Ahmad Daud, Muhammad Ayub, Abdullah Ubaid, Muhammad Ali and Abdul Ghaffar.
India however, had termed the arrest of the LeT founder by Pakistan, a bid to “hoodwink the international community”.
“This is not the first time that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested or detained. This drama has taken place at least eight times since 2001. The question is whether this time it would be more than a cosmetic exercise and whether Saeed will be tried and sentenced for his terrorist activities,” Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.
-with inputs from PTI