US adds 2 Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders, several aliases to terrorism list
The US government added two Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists today. Additionally, the US identified four additional aliases for Lashkar-e-Taiba, or Army of the Pure, and included them on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
The Treasury Department added Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry and Muhammad Hussein Gill, both of whom are described as senior Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) members, to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
Chaudhry currently serves as the leader of LeT's "information wing," and "has served as LeT vice-president, member of the group's central leadership, and as close aide" to Hafiz Saeed, the group's emir, according to the Treasury press release announcing the designations. He "has also been a key strategist for the group and has been involved in LeT operational finance matters."
Gill, a founding member, is LeT's "chief financial officer" and serves as a member of the group's shura, or executive council. "He also has served in LT's revenue wing and has maintained LT's expense records," Treasury stated.
In addition to the designations of Chaudhry and Gill, the State Department updated LeT's Foreign Terrorist Organization listing to include four aliases for the group: Jama'at-ud-Dawa, Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool (Movement for Defending the Honor of God), and Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal (Movement for Safeguarding the First Center of Prayer).
LeT "has repeatedly changed its name in an effort to avoid sanctions," State's amended designation said. "More specifically, LeT created Jama'at-ud-Dawa as a front organization, claiming that the group was an 'organization for the preaching of Islam, politics, and social work.'" Additionally, State reported that "since at least 2011, LeT has used Al-Anfal Trust to procure goods from the Persian Gulf."
The US government has added an LeT alias to its list of terrorist entities in the past. In November 2010, the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation was listed as a terrorist organization and front for Jamaat-ud-Dawa. FIF leader Hafiz Abdur Rauf and LeT operatives Mian Abdullah and Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan were also added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
In addition to the designations, the State Department indicated that LeT is active in Afghanistan to this day. According to State, LeT is "responsible for the May 23, 2014 attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan." In that attack, four heavily armed fighters were killed while attempting to storm the consulate. No group has claimed credit for the assault.
Lashkar-e-Taiba has launched multiple terror attacks against India, most notably 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 are closely allied with al Qaeda.
Several Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders are on the list of global terrorists
The US has added several LeT leaders and operatives to its terrorism list since the beginning of 2009. Additionally, the US has offered multimillion-dollar rewards for two of LeT's top leaders.
In July 2009, the US added Arif Qasmani, an LeT liaison with outside terror groups, including al Qaeda; Mohammed Yahya Mujahid, a media emir as spokesman; and Nasir Javaid, an operations chief, military commander, and a trainer in Pakistan
In November 2010, the US added the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation and its leader Hafiz Abdur Rauf, along with LeT leaders Mian Abdullah and Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan, to the list of global terror groups and individuals. Abdullah is a senior fundraiser and runs LeT's military camps. Khan is a financial facilitator, smuggler, and money launderer.
In September 2011, the US designated Zafar Iqbal, an LeT co-founder and a key fundraiser, and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, a deputy emir who in the past has served as interim emir and a main ideologue.
In April 2012, the US offered a $10 million reward for Hafiz Saeed, the emir and co-founder of LeT; and a $2 million reward for his brother-in-law, Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, the terror group's deputy leader. Saeed has flaunted his privileged position in Pakistan by appearing on multiple Pakistani news programs and talk shows.
In August 2012, the US added eight LeT leaders and operatives to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Among those designated were Sajid Mir, the "project manager" responsible for coordinating the November 2008 siege of Mumbai; Amir Hamza, an LeT propagandist; Abdullah Mujahid, LeT's "senior paramilitary commander for Afghanistan" since 2008; Abdullah Muntazir, who also works for LeT's media and propaganda wing; Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, who leads LeT's clerics; Hafiz Khalid Walid, a top LeT political official; and Ahmed Yaqub, who is listed by Agence France Presse as LeT's "chief for Bangladesh and Nepal operations."
Hafiz Saeed's son Talha was among the eight LeT operatives and leaders designated in August 2012. Talha has been directly linked to Jubair Ahmad, a Pakistani resident of Virginia who was arrested by the FBI in September 2011 and charged with providing material support to a terrorist group. Ahmad pled guilty in April 2012 and is serving a 12-year prison sentence.
Background on Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and al Qaeda
Osama bin Laden and his mentor Abdullah Azzam encouraged Saeed to form LeT in the late 1980s, and helped fund the establishment of the terror outfit. LeT, like al Qaeda, calls for the establishment of a global caliphate and receives funding from Saudis and other wealthy individuals throughout the Middle East.
LeT is an ally of al Qaeda; the two groups provide support for each other, and their operatives train in each other's camps. Prior to 9/11, LeT had established training camps in Kunar province in Afghanistan. The group is known to currently operate in the remote province. Its forces fought alongside al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the assault on the US combat outpost in Wanat in Nuristan province, Afghanistan in July 2008. Nine US troops were killed, and 15 US soldiers and four Afghan troops were wounded in the heavy fight that nearly culminated in the outpost being overrun. US forces ultimately beat back the attack, but abandoned the outpost days later.
LeT continues to run training camps in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the Northern Areas, and the tribal areas, as well as in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The terror group has an extensive network in Southern and Southeast Asia, where it seeks to establish a Muslim caliphate. The group essentially runs a state within a state in Pakistan; the group has established an organization that is as effective as Lebanese Hezbollah. Its sprawling Muridke complex, just northwest of Lahore in Punjab province, is a town of its own. Throughout Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, LeT runs numerous hospitals, clinics, schools, mosques, and other services. In support of its activities, LeT is active in fundraising across the Middle East and South Asia, and the group has recruited scores of Westerners to train in its camps.
In 2005, the group succeeded in providing aid to earthquake-ravaged regions in Kashmir while the Pakistani government was slow to act. Over the last several years, LeT provided relief to tens of thousands of internally displaced persons who have fled the fighting between the military and the Taliban in the Malakand Division and in the tribal areas, as well as those impacted by the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010.
The US government designated LeT as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in December 2001. The Pakistani government banned the group in January 2002, but this did little to shut down its operations. The group renamed itself the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and conducted business as usual. After Mumbai, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa used the name Falah-i Insaniat Foundation (FIF), and continued fundraising and other activities. The US designated the FIF as a terrorist group in November 2010.
In reality, Saeed and his leaders rebranded the group as a Muslim charity to mask his group's operations. Saeed has been arrested several times by Pakistani security forces after attacks in India, but each time has been quietly released. After Mumbai, Pakistan claimed to shut down LeT/JuD offices and camps, and detained followers, but the efforts were largely cosmetic. Saeed was placed under a loose house arrest in December 2008, but by August 2009, the Lahore High Court said the government did not have grounds to keep him under house arrest.
Saeed and LeT have strong links with elements within Pakistan's military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI. LeT is one of the primary terror groups used by Pakistan's ISI to direct military and terror operations inside India and Indian-held Kashmir. During the 1999 Kargil War, when Pakistan invaded Indian-held Kashmir, the LeT fought as the vanguard for Pakistani forces in the mountainous region. LeT units continue to infiltrate into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the help of Pakistan's military.