LAHORE – An anti-terrorism court in Lahore indicted Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the proscribed Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) organization and a UN-declared global terrorist, on terror-financing charges on Wednesday.
“The court has indicted Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in case no 30/19 registered at [the Counter-Terrorism Department] CTD Lahore pertaining to financing terror while has fixed the date December 18, 2019, for indictment in another case of the same nature registered at CTD Gujranwala,” Advocate Imran Fazl Gill, Saeed’s counsel told Arab News.
Saeed and co-accused, Malik Zafar Iqbal, were produced before the court amidst high security on Wednesday where the charges were read out to them.
“Hafiz Muhammad Saeed denied all the charges saying he has never been involved in any terror activities,” Gill said.
The court will hear the case on a day-to-day basis with Saeed’s prosecution to produce evidence against him on Thursday.
Advocates Gill and Naseerud Din Khan Nayyar will defend the accused.
Several cases of terror financing have been registered against Saeed, who was declared a global terrorist by the US and the UN in 2008.
Four other JuD leaders— Abdul Ghaffar, Hafiz Masood, Ameer Hamza, and Malik Zafar Iqbal are also on the UN list.
On July 1, the CTD registered 23 cases related to terror-financing in Gujranwala and Lahore in the Punjab province.
Authorities say that probes into two charities – that act as a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group which Saeed founded, namely Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation –are underway.
Counterterrorism officials submitted their findings in court as evidence that these charities were involved in raising money for terrorism.
According to the prosecution, Saeed collected funds using various trusts and non-profit organizations.
Under pressure from the international community, Pakistan has been probing the JuD and its affiliated organizations since July 2019.
Pakistan formally banned Saeed’s two charities earlier this year. Addressing his case is being considered as a renewed effort by the country to comply with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog on terror-financing.
Pakistan is on the FATF’s grey list and risks being blacklisted, which would result in global sanctions if it fails to curb terror-financing within the country.
Saeed is accused of being the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks which claimed the lives of nearly 160 people in India’s commercial capital.
In 2012, the United Nations Security Council placed sanctions on his organization and declared its office bearers as terrorists.
Implementing the UN resolution, Prime Minister Imran Khan recently directed the authorities to implement the National Action Plan while chairing the National Security Committee’s meeting.