US hails JuD chief’s conviction

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STAFF REPORT

ISLAMABAD

The top US diplomat for South Asia Alice Wells on Thursday hailed Pakistan’s jailing of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafi z Muhammad Saeed by an anti-terrorism court after fi nding him guilty of terror fi nancing and affi liation with an outlawed group. A day earlier, an anti-terrorism court convicted the two JuD leaders to fi ve-and-a-half-years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) in two cases relating to terror fi nancing. The verdict came days ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) meeting in Paris to decide Pakistan’s grey list fate.

Wells, in a tweet by the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs early Thursday, said that the conviction was a step forward, “both toward holding the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) accountable for its crimes and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist fi nancing”. In a subsequent tweet, Wells noted that “as Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, it is in the interest of Pakistan’s future that it not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil”.

ATC-I presiding judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta convicted both the JuD leaders under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and sentenced them to fi ve years RI with a fi ne of Rs10,000 each and six months RI under Section 11-F (2) of the Act with a fi ne of Rs5,000. The ATC judge observed that in addition to evidence presented by the prosecution, both accused also admitted the ownership of the property by Tanzeem Markaz Dawatul Irshad, a proscribed organisation. He said it had been established on record that the property in question was in the name of Dawatul Irshad and the same remained in possession of the accused persons being trustees. The court had reserved its verdicts in the two cases on February 6. Saeed is nominated in multiple cases pertaining to money laundering, terror fi nancing and land grabbing. The JuD chief was arrested by CTD in July last year, while he was travelling from Lahore to Gujranwala. Prior to his arrest, 23 fi rst information reports had been registered against JuD leaders, including Saeed and JuD Naib Emir Abdul Rehman Makki, at CTD police stations of Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Sargodha in July 2019. According to the CTD, JuD was fi nancing terrorism from the massive funds collected through non-profi t organisations and trusts including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc. These non-profi t organisations were banned in April last year as the CTD, during detailed investigations, found that they had links with the JuD and its top leadership.