Islamabad, Pakistan – A Pakistani court has indicted Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) armed group and alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, on terrorism financing charges, officials say.
The court ordered the government’s prosecution team to summon its witnesses to pursue the case, according to a statement by prosecutor Abdur Rauf Wattoo issued following the hearing in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday.
“The counterterrorism department had lodged a case against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed for illegal funding,” Watoo said.
Imran Gill, Saeed’s lawyer, confirmed that his client had been indicted, along with Zafar Iqbal, another official associated with Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the humanitarian arm of LeT.
The next hearing in the case will be held on Thursday.
Saeed, who has a $10m US government reward out for his capture, has been accused by India and the US of masterminding the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed more than 160 people.
LeT routinely targets Indian security forces and government targets, mainly in the disputed region of Kashmir where an armed rebellion against Indian rule has been ongoing for decades.
Curbing financing of armed groups
Saeed and other JuD officials have faced a slew of legal cases pertaining to “terrorism financing” this year, as Pakistan has come under increasing pressure to crack down on the funding of armed groups by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
FATF, an inter-governmental body that monitors measures to curb financing of armed groups and money laundering, placed Pakistan on its “grey list” last year, requiring the country to take action to reform its regulatory framework or face isolation from the international financial system.
In October, FATF decided to maintain Pakistan’s “grey list” classification but warned that unless concrete action was taken by February 2020, it would blacklist the country.
In March, Pakistan formally banned Saeed’s JuD and other associated organisations, after years of allowing them to operate freely across the country.
JuD and its Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) operated a network of dozens of schools and hundreds of ambulances, providing humanitarian relief in all four Pakistani provinces.
The UN has long designated the JuD and FIF as fronts for the LeT.
Saeed denies any wrongdoing, saying the organisations only engage in humanitarian work.
Source: Al Jazeera