US designates 2 LeT leaders as terrorists, exposes international links
New York, Dec 29 (IANS) Designating two Pakistan-based leaders of Lakshar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), the United States has exposed the long tentacles of the group that stretch from Gaza and Syria to Bangladesh and Myanmar and the activities of two of its front organisations.
The Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that it was adding LeT financial officers Shahid Mahmood and LeT Lahore “emir” Muhammad Sarwar to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists and gave an extensive report on their activities.
In a separate announcement, the State Department said LeT’s youth recruitment arm, Al-Muhammadia Students (AMS), was added to the list of foreign terrorist organisations.
The terrorist designations ban providing money or material support to those organisations or people or having any transactions with them and it freezes their property.
The State Department said that since LeT was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in 2001, the group has repeatedly changed its name and created front organisations. The AMS was one such “alias”, which was founded in 2009 and “is a subsidiary of LeT and has worked with LeT senior leaders to organise recruiting courses and other activities for youth,” the department said.
Mehmood and Sarwar “are responsible for raising and moving funds to support the terrorist group’s operations,” said John E. Smith, the acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). “Today’s action not only aims to expose their activities, but also disrupts Lashkar-e Tayyiba’s financial network and ability to carry out violent terrorist attacks.”
“Mahmood claimed that LeT’s primary concern should be attacking India and America,” the Treasury Department’s announcement said.
He was the Vice Chairman of LeT’s fundraising front, Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), which has been designated a terrorist organisation by both the State Department and the United Nations, the department said.
A member of the LeT operations group, Karachi-based Mehmood was in charge of Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh and had traveled extensively to Myanmar, Gaza, Syria, Turkey and Bangladesh, the department said.
He was also put in charge of FIF operations in Syria and Turkey and had distributed funds in Myanmar refugee camp to recruit members for LeT, according to the department.
Mehmood, 36, also uses the name Rehmatullah.
Lahore-based Sarwar was “directly involved in LeT fundraising activities and uses the formal financial system in Pakistan to raise and move funds on behalf of LeT,” the department said.
Sarwar worked with LeT’s foreign affairs chief Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, who was put on the terrorist list in 2010, and Makki asked Sarwar pay for his travel in Pakistan, the department said.
To help raise donations for the LeT, Sarwar led delegations of businessmen to the organisation’s facilities, the department said without identifying the delegations’ members or the group outfits.
Sarwar, who is between 48 and 50 years old, was born in Sheikhupura and uses the aliases Abul Hashim and Rabbani.