Pakistan Court Sentences Three More JuD Leaders to 15 Years in Jail in Terror Financing Cases
File photo of Hafiz Saeed
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has sentenced three more leaders of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) to 15 years imprisonment each in two more terror financing cases. Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore Judge Ijaz Ahmad Buttar handed down the sentence to Abdul Salam bin Muhammad, Zafar Iqbal and Muhammad Ashraf on Thursday.
JuD chief Saeed's brother-in-law Prof Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki was sentenced to six months imprisonment in each case. The suspects were presented in the court amid high security and the media was not allowed to cover the proceedings.
The sentencing comes a day after Saeed's spokesperson Yahya Mujahid was handed down another 15 years in jail by the ATC in a terror financing case. Mujahid was last month given a collective imprisonment of 32 years in two terror financing cases by the ATC.
JuD's senior leader Zafar Iqbal will now undergo a collective imprisonment of 41 years in terror financing cases. The Counter-Terrorism Department of Punjab police had registered as many as 41 FIRs against the JuD leaders, including Saeed, in different cities. The trial courts have so far decided 27 cases.
The ATC had sentenced Saeed for a collective imprisonment of 21 years in terror finance cases under sections 11-N of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. The 70-year-old JuD chief is lodged at Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail since July 2019. There are reports that he is given "VIP protocol" in jail.
Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, was arrested on July 17 last year in the terror financing cases.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. He was listed under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. The recent verdicts by anti-terrorism court comes in the wake of global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force's decision to retain Pakistan on its 'grey list' till February 2021 as Islamabad failed to fulfil its six key obligations, including failure to take action against two of India's most wanted terrorists — Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar.
The Paris-based FATF placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to COVID-19 pandemic. With Pakistan's continuation in the 'grey list', the country may find it difficult to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the cash-strapped nation.