Pakistan’s Hafiz Saeed indicted on ‘terror financing’ charges

Pakistani policemen escort the head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) organisation Hafiz Saeed (C) as he leaves the court after the expiry of his three-month detention period, in Lahore on October 17, 2017. (AFP)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Pakistan’s Hafiz Saeed indicted on ‘terror financing’ charges

  • The alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind denies all allegations of abetting terrorism
  • Pakistan is on FATF’s grey list and risks being blacklisted if it fails to curb terror-financing 

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. 

Political parties, rights groups slam new crackdown in disputed Kashmir

Updated 30 October 2020

Political parties, rights groups slam new crackdown in disputed Kashmir

  • New regulation, which allows non-Kashmiris can buy land in Kashmir, is seen as an attempt to dilute the Muslim-majority character of the region
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) on called raids on rights groups an attempt to 'to crush peaceful criticism and calls for accountability'

NEW DELHI: Pro-India political parties in Kashmir on Friday accused New Delhi of “infringement” of their fundamental rights, days after the introduction of controversial land laws in the region.
The passage of the new regulation, under which non-Kashmiris can buy land in Kashmir, was immediately followed by counterterrorism raids on politicians and activists.
On Friday, the local administration prevented Farooq Abdullah, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and senior leader of the region’s oldest party, National Conference (NC), from offering prayers at Srinagar's historic Hazratbal shrine on the occasion of Mawlid Al-Nabi, the observance of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.
"J&K administration has blocked the residence of Party President Dr Farooq Abdullah and stopped him from offering prayers at Dargah Hazratbal. The NC condemns this infringement of fundamental right to pray, especially on the auspicious occasion of Milad Un Nabi SAW," the NC said in a tweet.
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti said that preventing Abdullah from offering prayers at the shrine "exposed" the Indian government's "deep paranoia and their iron fist approach" toward Kashmir.
"It's a gross violation of our rights and is highly condemnable," she tweeted.
On Thursday, the government sealed the PDP office and stopped the party's workers from protesting against the new land laws were notified on Tuesday.
The PDP accuses the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to "silence any voices that speak up" against its "unilateral actions" in Kashmir, PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar told Arab News.
"Dissent has been criminalized and voices muzzled as part of the project to take over whatever this state has, land and resources," he said.
The closure of the PDP office followed Wednesday raids by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) on several NGOs which it accused of carrying out and raising funds for "secessionist and separatist activities" Kashmir.
The groups see the move as a crackdown.
Praveena Ahanger of the Srinagar-based Association of Disappeared Persons (APDP), one of the seven NGOs that were raided by NIA, said it is a "clear case of reprisal and crackdown on the human rights defenders in Kashmir."
Zafarul Islam Khan, former head of the Delhi Minority Commission whose NGO Charity Alliance's premises in Delhi were also raided by NIA, told Arab News that according to the agency's search order, his group was "funding terror organizations in Kashmir."
It is a "Himalayan lie,” he said. "They are trying to implicate me for my work in the Delhi Minority Commission and for my reports on Delhi religious violence in which the names of the ruling BJP leaders have cropped up."
International human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday called the raids an attempt “to silence peaceful dissenters, human rights activists, and journalists.”
"India faces serious security challenges, but instead of addressing the problems in a rights-respecting manner, the authorities appear determined to crush peaceful criticism and calls for accountability,” HRW South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly said in a statement.
Crackdowns on Kashmiri leaders and rights activists have escalated since August 2019 when New Delhi scrapped Articles 370 and 35A of the constitution, which gave Kashmiris limited autonomy and protected their domicile and employment rights. People in the region fear the new land laws are aimed at diluting the Muslim-majority character of the region.
"Land in Kashmir is the biggest resource which is now being offered to outsiders as part of demographic projects. Actual assault is on the Muslim majority character of the region. Everything else is a step to achieve that," PDP's Akhatar said.
Political experts say that altering the region's demography was the main concept behind the revocation of Kashmir's special status.
"The whole idea of revoking Article 370 was to alter the demography of Kashmir otherwise the land in Kashmir is limited, 93 percent of the area in Kashmir is mountain,” Prof. Sheikh Showkat Hussain of Srinagar-based Kashmir University told Arab News.
"People are angry in Kashmir and it might spill over the street any day."
But Srinagar-based BJP leader Dr. Hina Bhat discounts the possibility.
"I don’t think people are angry. Those who are protesting have lost all credibility. The change in land law will not force people to sell their lands to outsiders," she told Arab News.
Commenting on the killing of three BJP workers in Kulgam area of Kashmir on Thursday, Bhat said that "militants don’t want the region to progress."
"The killings of our party men will not deter us from doing good work in Kashmir."