US sanctions Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda leaders
Three senior operatives in the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and an al Qaeda leader have been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department. The designation was made just one day after a leaked Pakistani report described how Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terror groups are thriving in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Arif Qasmani, Mohammed Yahya Mujahid, and Nasir Javaid, and al Qaeda operative Fazeel-A-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen Al Peshawari have been designated as terrorists under Executive Order 13224. The designation permits the US to freeze their assets, prevents them from using financial institutions, and allows for prosecution for their terrorist activities.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba is a Pakistan-based terror group that shares the same goals and ideology as al Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba has an extensive organization and runs numerous humanitarian organizations, schools, and hospitals. The group is supported by Pakistan's military and intelligence services.
The four terrorists have been active in supporting the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the Lashkar-e-Taiba in India.
The Treasury Department described Arif Qasmani as "the chief coordinator for Lashkar-e-Taiba's dealings with outside organizations." Qasmani has provided financial support to al Qaeda and served as a facilitator for the organization.
Qasmani has helped move foreign fighters into and out of Afghanistan and has compensated the families of fighters killed in battle. He has been directly linked to the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai, India, and the February 2007 Samjota Express bombing in Panipat. Qasmani received funds from underworld and terror boss Dawood Ibrahim to carry out the deadly 2006 Mumbai attack.
Mohammed Yahya Mujahid is listed as the chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba's media department as well as a chief spokesman. He is described as being "influential among the LET [Lashkar-e-Taiba's] central leadership." Mujahid is known to operate openly in Kashmir.
Nasir Javaid is an operations chief and a military commander and trainer in Pakistan. "In mid-2001, Javaid assumed command of an LET training center in Pakistan," the Treasury reported.
Fazeel-A-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen al Peshawari is an al Qaeda facilitator, financier, and recruiter. He has supported Taliban and al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan by providing cash, suicide vests, military equipment, and recruits.
Pakistan remains a breeding ground for terror groups
One day prior to the US' designation of three leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba as terrorists, a Pakistani government report obtained by the BBC stated that terror groups are thriving in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
According to the report, Lashkar-e-Taiba, along with the allied Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Harkatul Mujahideen, have expanded their operations in Muzaffarabad, the main city, and are opening new madrassas, or religious schools, where young boys are indoctrinated.
"'No officials are allowed to enter these premises to gather any sort of information,'" the report says, according to the BBC. "'We fear these madrassas [are] maybe a cover for furthering militant activities,'" the report continued.
The terror groups are said to be strong in the district of Neelum, where they have begun to clash with the local administration. The report "goes on to say that the authorities should take up the matter with the intelligence agency responsible for the militants," stated the BBC.
"The report says officials from that agency should relocate the militants to some area near the border, otherwise clashes with locals could take place," the BBC summary continued.
While "the intelligence agency responsible for the militants" was not identified, Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency is known to back Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, despite these groups' activities in support of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
After strong evidence emerged that Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the November 2008 terror assault on Mumbai, the Pakistani government claimed to have cracked down on the group. But today nearly all of the group's leaders remain free.
In June, Indian intelligence claimed that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami operate 42 training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Pakistan's Northern Areas.