The US State and Treasury Departments announced today that three Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) figures have been designated as terrorists. LeT has long been focused on fighting Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as executing terrorist operations inside India itself. The group’s most notorious attack came in Nov. 2008, when a team of jihadists laid siege to several sites in Mumbai. More than 160 people were killed in that raid.
While LeT is primarily focused on Indian interests in South Asia, today’s designations highlight the global dimensions of its operations. One of the newly-sanctioned men has raised funds to send to Syria, where multiple jihadist outfits operate. Another was detained in Iraq and held for a decade before being transferred to Pakistani custody and released.
The State Department was responsible for designating Abdul Rehman al-Dakhil, whom it describes as a “longtime member” of LeT. Dakhil “was an operational leader for LeT’s attacks in India between 1997 and 2001.” But he was captured by British forces in Iraq in 2004 and “then held in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan until his transfer to Pakistan in 2014.”
The Pakistani government, which supports LeT and provides its cadres with safe havens, released Dakhil. He then “returned to work” for the group and was the LeT’s “divisional commander for the Jammu region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir” in 2016 and he “remained a senior commander” as of early 2018.
The Treasury Department added two other LeT members to the US government’s list of designated terrorists. Both Hameed ul Hassan and Abdul Jabbar are described as “financial facilitator[s]” who have worked for the Falah-e Insaniat Foundation, which is a designated front for the LeT.
While working with Falah-e Insaniat Foundation, Hassan has collected and sent funds to Syria. Treasury does not indicate which groups or individuals received the proceeds.
Hassan has also “worked with his brother, Muhammad Ijaz Safarash, and Khalid Walid to transport funds to Pakistan on behalf of LeT.” The US and Saudi governments designated Safarash as a terrorist in Mar. 2016. Treasury said at the time that Safarash was based in Saudi Arabia, where he helped LeT fundraise. Walid was sanctioned in Sept. 2012, with Treasury describing him as a senior LeT figure who had served in the group’s “central advisory committee.” At one point, Walid was also the “personal assistant” to the LeT’s founder and overall leader, Hafiz Saeed.
Treasury notes that Hassan “has an active Twitter account, which identifies him as the leader of Jamat-ud Dawah (an alias of LeT) in Azad Kashmir.” FDD’s Long War Journal has located a page that appears to be Hassan’s Twitter account. Though this cannot be entirely confirmed, the account is in Hassan’s name, and it identifies its owner as a Jamat-ud Dawah figure in Azad Kashmir, just as Treasury explains. A screen shot of the account, including a profile picture of Hassan that was uploaded in Apr. 2017, can be seen on the right.
Assuming the account is his, Hassan’s tweets and retweets include criticisms of the US and praise for the Pakistani Army. His profile also claims he is “Serving Humanity,” which is not how the US government describes his activities.
Treasury says Abdul Jabbar is a longtime money man, claiming he “has worked in LeT’s finance department since around 2000” and “distributes salaries for the terrorist group.” Jabbar has also distributed funds on behalf of the Falah-e Insaniat Foundation.
LeT has links to al Qaeda. However, the Pakistani jihadist scene has been shaken up in recent years, with some groups trying to distance themselves from al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Some factions want the jihad in Kashmir to be viewed as a nationalist struggle, untainted by more notorious global jihadi brands.
Today’s announcements do not indicate that any of the three newly-designated terrorists have ties to al Qaeda, though that is certainly a possibility. The US government has reported that the LeT has “links to the Taliban, the Haqqani Taliban Network, and al Qaeda” in the past. There are multiple connections, including Hafiz Saeed’s relationship with Osama bin Laden, whom Saeed has described as a “martyr.”
Past US designations have also revealed new details about LeT’s ties to al Qaeda. For instance, a Scottish-born jihadist named James McLintock was designated as a terrorist in 2016. Treasury explained at the time that McLintock and his charity had raised funds for al Qaeda, the Taliban and LeT, among other groups. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Treasury Department: Charity run by Scottish-born jihadist an al Qaeda ‘front organization’.]