US designates Lashkar-e-Taiba's charitable front as terror group
The US government has targeted a charitable front for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and three senior leaders of the terror group by designating them as global terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba receives support from Pakistan's military and its intelligence service.
Today under Executive Order 13224, the US State Department added the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation (FIF) as a terrorist entity, while the US Treasury Department added FIF leader Hafiz Abdur Rauf, along with Mian Abdullah and Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan, to the list of specially designated global terrorists. The designations allows the US to freeze the assets of the three senior leaders, prevent them from using financial institutions, and prosecute them for terrorist activities.
"Few individuals are more integral to LET's fundraising than Hafiz Abdur Rauf and Mian Abdullah," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba has launched multiple terror attacks against India, including the 2008 terror assault on the city of Mumbai which killed 165 people, including civilians and members of Indian security forces. Operating in conjunction with the Jaish-e-Mohammed, another Pakistan terror group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba also executed the December 2001 terror assault on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. In addition, both groups carry out attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, and serve as al Qaeda affiliates in the region.
The designations took place just 20 days after the US Treasury sanctioned Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Azam Cheema, a top military commander involved in the planning of the Mumabi terror assault, and Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, a political official. Jaish-e-Mohammed and its leader, Maulana Massod Azhar, were also designated as terrorist entities at that time.
Pakistan has refused to crack down on homegrown terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, despite their covert and overt support for al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terror groups. Inside Pakistan's military and intelligence services, which are the real powers in Pakistan, groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba are seen as 'strategic depth' against India, and are used as instruments of foreign policy.
Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who has been designated by the US and the UN as a terrorist, remains a free man in Pakistan despite openly supporting jihad in both India and Pakistan, and regardless of his group's involvement in the Mumbai attack as well as other terror attacks. Pakistani Army corps commanders, who occupy some of the senior-most positions in the military, openly cavort with Saeed.
Falah-i Insaniat Foundation
The Falah-i Insaniat Foundation is a known front for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which in itself is a charitable front for the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba. Falah-i Insaniat was established in 2009 after the United Nations added Jamaat-ud-Dawa to its list of proscribed terror groups.
"FIF is a Pakistan-based organization that is closely connected to banned terrorist group LeT and its humanitarian front Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD)," the US Department of State said. "In essence, FIF is JUD with a new name, designed to evade scrutiny and sanctions."
FIF established relief camps and delivered aid to Pakistanis fleeing military operations in Swat and the Malakand District that began in the spring of 2009. These camps also served as fertile recruiting grounds for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba.
FIF received global attention this summer after Rajiv Shah, the USAID chief for Pakistan, visited a camp in Sukkur on Aug. 26, and donated truckloads of supplies. Lashkar-e-Taiba seized on this to claim that the US views Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a legitimate organization.
"JuD [Jamaat-ud-Dawa ] is actively taking part in relief operations," Yahya Mujahid, the terror group's spokesman quoted Shah as saying. "The work being done by the group is appreciable."
Hafiz Abdur Rauf
Rauf has been in the top tier of the leadship of the Lashkar-e-Taiba since 1999. He currently serves as the leader of the FIF, and funnels money to the Lashkar-e-Taiba through the charitable front.
In the past, he has served as Lashkar-e-Taiba's spokesman, the Director of Humanitarian Relief, and the Director of Public Service. Rauf also served as the head of the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, another charitable front which was designated by the US Treasury as a terrorist entity along with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa in April 2008.
Abdullah is a longtime member of Lashkar-e-Taiba; he has been with the group since it was founded in 1989 by Hafiz Saeed and Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden's mentor. Abdullah currently is the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba's Traders' Department. "In this capacity, he liaises with prominent Pakistani businessmen and solicits financial support for LET," Treasury stated.
Abdullah previously served as the group's Director of Finance, "a position he assumed from Haji Muhammad Ashraf following Ashraf's designation as a SDGT in May 2008 and his addition to the UN 1267 Consolidated List in December 2008."
Abdullah also has a pedigree in Lashkar-e-Taiba's training and operations wings. He has served as a commander in Peshawar and as an instructor at a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Afghanistan. As recently as July 2009, Abdullah was appointed the chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba's training camps.
Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan
The US Treasury described Khan as "a key financial facilitator for LET who supports the organization through an international counterfeit currency and smuggling network." In this capacity, he "recruited members to LET's smuggling network, provided them with counterfeit currency and facilitated the network's operations."
Khan also is involved in Lashkar-e-Taiba's operations in Bangladesh, where he was detained in April 2008 "for laundering approximately $125,000 worth of counterfeit Indian rupees."
"As of 2008, Naushad was also a close aide of a senior Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) leader, with whom he fought in Afghanistan," Treasury stated.
The Bangladeshi branch of HUJI was established in 1992 "with assistance from Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front," according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, and has been instrumental in providing recruits and support to terror groups in South Asia. HUJI-B was designated a terrorist entity in April 2008.
Correction: The article has been update to reflect that the US State Department, and not the US Treasury Department, designated the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation as a terrorist entity. Treasury did add Rauf, Abdullah, and Khan to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.