The US Treasury Department has targeted three senior leaders of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammed, designating them as global terrorists. The two terror groups receive support from Pakistan’s military and its intelligence service.
Today under Executive Order 13224, the Treasury added Amanullah Afrid, the top leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ); Matiur Rehman, LeJ’s operations chief; and Abdul Rauf Azhar, senior leader in Jaish-e-Mohammed to the list of specially designated global terrorists. The designation allows the US to freeze the assets of the the senior leaders, prevent them from using financial institutions, and prosecute them for terrorist activities.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is an anti-Shia terror group that has integrated with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has an extensive network in Pakistan and serves as al Qaeda’s muscle for terror attacks. The group has conducted numerous suicide and other terror attacks inside Pakistan. In particular, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is well known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shia, Ahmadis, Sufis, and Christians in Pakistan.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed has participated in multiple terror attacks in India. Operating together with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, another Pakistani-military supported terror group, the two terror groups executed the December 2001 terror assault on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. Jaish-e-Mohammed has provided crucial aid to al Qaeda, and its top leaders have integrated with the global terror movement.
Today’s designations are the latest over the past month that have hit top Pakistan-based terror groups and leaders. On Nov. 24, the US State Department added the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation, a charitable front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, as a terrorist entity; and the US Treasury Department added FIF leader Hafiz Abdur Rauf, and Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Mian Abdullah and Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan, as specially designated global terrorists.
A few weeks earlier, on Nov. 4, the US Treasury added Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Massod Azhar, and Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Azam Cheema and Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, as specially designated global terrorists.
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.
Afridi was appointed the leader of LeJ in June 2009. The Treasury described Afridi as “a key figure in directing terrorist-related activities of LeJ for several years.”
Afridi previously “prepared and provided suicide jackets for al Qaeda operations, trained suicide bombers and trained the assassin of Pakistani cleric Allama Hassan Turabi,” a prominent Shia cleric. Turabi was killed in June 2006 in Karachi by a 16-year-old Bangladeshi suicide bomber.
Matiur Rehman, image from ABC News
Matiur Rehman is a top operational leader who is said to manage al Qaeda’s ‘Rolodex’ of fighters who have passed through training camps and safe houses. Treasury described Rehman as LeJ’s “chief operational commander” and a “planning director” who has “worked on behalf of al Qaeda.”
Rehman, who sits on al Qaeda’s external operations council, has been traced to multiple plots against the West, including the 2006 London airline plot. The foiled attack, which has been called the “son of Bojinka,” was modeled after the 1995 Bojinka plot devised by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his nephew Ramzi Yousef. Rehman also assisted Adnan el Shukrijumah, another top al Qaeda leader who is the operations chief for North America, in training the al Qaeda operatives who planned to attack trains in the New York City area last year.
“Rehman has also been implicated in plots or attacks against a former Pakistani president, a former Pakistani prime minister, and the U.S. consulate in Karachi,” Treasury stated.
Abdul Rauf Azhar
Azhar has been identified by the Treasury Department as “a senior leader” of JeM who “has urged Pakistanis to engage in militant activities.” In 2007, Azhar served as JeM’s “acting leader.”
Treasury described Azhar as a senior military commander in India and JeM’s “intelligence coordinator.”
“In 2008 Azhar was assigned to organize suicide attacks in India,” according to Treasury. “He was also involved with JeM’s political wing and has served as a JeM official involved with training camps.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.