Pakistan Jails JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed To Evade FATF Blacklisting?

Pakistan has jailed Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief – Hafiz Saeed in two terror financing cases and for having ties to banned organisations. Hafiz Saeed was found guilty of “being part of a banned terrorist outfit” and for “having illegal property”, his lawyer Imran Gill told AFP.

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Hafiz Saeed and co-accused Malik Zafar Iqbal were awarded five years and six months jail-term by ATC judge Lahore in FIR NO 32/2019, registered by CTD Gujranwala and five years and six months imprisonment in FIR NO 30/2019 registered against him by CTD Lahore.

Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, was arrested on July 17  and is lodged at the Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail in high security.

The order stated that Saeed is convicted under Section 11-N of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs10,000, and if he defaults on the fine, he will spend an additional six months in prison.

Saeed was also convicted under Section 11-F of ATA 1997, with a sentence of six years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs5,000. “The judgments passed in this case shall run simultaneously with the sentences passed in case FIR No 30/2019 dated August 5, 2019, under sections 11-F(5)(6), 11-H2,11-I, 11-J and 11-N of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997,” the order further stated.

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According to the CTD, investigation launched into financing matters of banned organisations – JuD and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – in connection with implementation of UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities and Persons as directed by NSC (National Security Committee) in its meeting of January 1, 2019, chaired by PM Imran Khan for implementing the National Action Plan.

“These suspects made assets from funds of terrorism financing. They held and used these assets to raise more funds for further terrorism financing. Hence, they committed multiple offences of terrorism financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. They will be prosecuted in ATCs (Anti Terrorism Courts) for commission of these offences,” the CTD said.

The crackdown on Saeed’s outfit last year followed a warning by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force to Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering.

Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the deadly 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice. He was listed under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.

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The Financial Action Task Force is set to meet in Paris for five days to decide on Pakistan’s grey list fate. The meeting will begin on February 16.

In October 2019, the FATF had decided to keep Pakistan on its grey list till February, giving it time to achieve the FATF’s 27-point action plan.

The FATF had put Pakistan on its grey list in June 2018 due to deficiencies in the country’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Terrorist Financing regulations. Being on the grey list doesn’t come with any sanctions, but Islamabad remain on this list, Pakistan will face the risk of being put on the blacklist and face severe international sanctions.