The US Treasury Department has targeted two senior leaders of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba by designating them as global terrorists. The terror group receives support from Pakistan’s military and its intelligence service and is responsible for multiple attacks in South Asia.
Today under Executive Order 13224, the Treasury Department added Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi to the list of specially designated global terrorists. Iqbal is the group’s co-founder and a key fundraiser, while Bhuttavi is the deputy emir and main ideologue. The designation allows the US to freeze the assets of the two senior leaders, prevent them from using financial institutions, and prosecute them for terrorist activities.
“Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi are two of LET’s most significant leaders,” David S. Cohen, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, was quoted as saying in the Treasury release. “Over the past 20 years, Iqbal and Bhuttavi have been responsible for fundraising, recruitment, and indoctrination of operatives.”
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 Pakistani 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.
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 most senior positions in the military, openly cavort with Saeed.
In the past year, the US has added several Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders to the list of global terrorists. Azam Cheema, a top military commander involved in the planning of the Mumabi terror assault; Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, a political official; Hafiz Abdur Rauf, leader of the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation, an LET front; Mian Abdullah, the head of LET’s Traders’ Department; and Mohammad Naushad Alam Khan, a financial facilitator, smuggler, and counterfeiter, have been added in the past year. Also, the US added the Falah-i Insaniat Foundation as a designated terrorist entity.
Also, earlier this month the US Justice Department arrested a Pakistani man who is accused of producing propaganda for the terror group. The suspect, Jubair Ahmad, was in direct contact with Talha Saeed, the son of Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed, and produced and uploaded propaganda videos at his request. Jubair trained at several Lashkar-e-Taiba’s terror camps before coming to the US.
Iqbal is described as “a senior leader and co-founder of LET” who “has served in various LET/JUD senior leadership positions and was once considered LET/JUD’s second-in-command.” JUD is the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, another Lashkar-e-Taiba front group. Iqbal, along with Saeed, “traveled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with … to request financial support from Osama bin Laden.”
From 2003 to 2010, Iqbal was “the director of LET/JUD’s education department,” the Treasury designation stated. “In this capacity, Iqbal has been involved in recruiting activities on behalf of the group and has prepared the curricula for schools run by LET/JUD in Pakistan. As of 2010, Iqbal was a joint secretary of a university trust created by LET/JUD to carry out activities on behalf of the group.”
Iqbal is currently the chief financial officer and top fundraiser. In 2010, he “was overseeing the construction of an LET/JUD facility,” despite Pakistani government claims that the group’s activities have been shut down.
Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi
Treasury described Bhuttavi as “a founding member of LET” and well as a Saeed “deputy.”
“Bhuttavi has served as the acting emir of LET/JUD on at least two occasions, including when Saeed was detained in the days after the November 2008 Mumbai attack and held until June 2009,” Treasury stated. “Bhuttavi handled the group’s day-to-day functions during this period.”
He also “helped prepare the operatives for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by delivering lectures on the merits of martyrdom.”
“Bhuttavi has issued fatwas authorizing LET/JUD’s militant operations, has instructed group leaders and members, and is responsible for LET/JUD’s madrassah network,” Treasury stated. “In mid-2002, Bhuttavi was in charge of establishing an LET/JUD organizational base in Lahore, Pakistan.”
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