Pak Convicts 26/11 Mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Terror Funding Cases

He was given a prison sentence of five and a half years and a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case, the media report said.

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Hafiz Saeed.
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A Pakistan court on Wednesday, 12 February, convicted Jamat-ud-Dawa chief (JuD) Hafiz Saeed in two of the six terror financing cases against him, newspaper Dawn reported.

He was given a prison sentence of five and a half years and a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case, the media report said. The sentences of both cases will run concurrently.

The anti-terrorism court, or ATC, had indicted Saeed and others on 11 December in terror financing case in day-to-day hearing.

In the two concluded cases, the prosecution had produced some 20-odd witnesses in the ATC who testified against Saeed and his close aides for their involvement in terror financing.

Welcoming the conviction of the 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, the United States called it as an important step towards holding the Lashkar-a-Taiba (LeT) accountable.

Meanwhile, Indian government sources questioned whether Pakistan will take the same action against other terrorists and terrorist organisations and bring perpetrators of cross border terrorist attacks, including in Mumbai and Pathankot, to justice expeditiously, reported ANI.

Notably, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had last year, warned Pakistan of blacklisting if it failed to control terror funding by 20 February.

FATF had asked Pakistan to take stern action against the funding of terrorists if it wanted to be out of the Grey list. Currently, Iran and North Korea are on FATF's black list.

Conviction Ahead of Trump’s India Visit

The development comes just days ahead of US President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to India on 24 February.

The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.

The United States has also welcomed Saeed's indictment by a Pakistani court, urging Islamabad to ensure a full prosecution and expeditious trial of the charges against him.

The Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT, which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

US Welcomes Saeed's Conviction

The US has welcomed the conviction of the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and described it as an “important step forward” for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terror financing and not to allow non-state actors to operate from its soil.

According to Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that it is in the interest of his country's future that it does not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil.

She said in a tweet: “Today's conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward – both towards holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing.”

Conviction in 2 Cases After Admitting Plea to Club All 6 Cases

The conviction comes after the anti-terrorism court on Tuesday had accepted a plea by Saeed to club all six terror financing cases against him and his aides, and announce the verdict on completion of the trial.

According to the petition, four other terror financing cases against Saeed, Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Abdul Rehman Makki are pending before the same ATC.

"The anti-terrorism court of Lahore accepted the plea of Saeed and his close aides seeking delay in the verdict in two concluded terror financing cases against them till the trial in other four such pending cases is complete," a court official had told PTI after the hearing.

Last Saturday, Lahore ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta had deferred the verdict against Saeed in two terror financing cases till 11 February.

Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Rauf Wattoo told the Dawn TV that some six cases against Saeed and others are pending before the same court and presentation of evidence in remaining four cases is in progress.

"Hearing of all four remaining cases will be concluded simultaneously at the end of the week and after that the court will issue its verdict," Wattoo had said.

Saeed and other JuD leaders were produced before the ATC in high security.

The cases of terror financing have been registered against him in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police.

Cross examination of prosecution witnesses against Saeed and his three close aides by the defense counsel has already been concluded.

The Counter Terrorism Department had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province and arrested him on 17 July. He is lodged at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

The cases were registered against Saeed and others in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terrorism financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/Non Profit Organisations including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc.

According to the CTD, investigation launched into financing matters of proscribed organisations – JuD and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – in connection with the implementation of UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities and Persons as directed by NSC (National Security Committee) in its meeting of 1 January 2019, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan for implementing the National Action Plan.

“These suspects made assets from funds of terrorism financing. They held and used these assets to raise more funds for further terrorism financing. Hence, they committed multiple offences of terrorism financing and money laundering under Anti Terrorism Act 1997. They will be prosecuted in ATCs (Anti Terrorism Courts) for commission of these offences,” the CTD said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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