Mumbai terror attack mastermind and banned Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was on Thursday sentenced to 15 and a half years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in one more terror financing case.
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Lahore also imposed a 200,000 Pakistani rupees (PKR) fine on Saeed. The 70-year-old radical cleric has already been convicted for 21 years imprisonment in four terror financing cases of late.
“On Thursday an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Lahore sentenced five leaders of Jamat-ud-Dawa, including its chief Hafiz Saeed, in another terror financing case…for 15 and a half years,” a court official told PTI.
Now, Saeed will have to undergo collective imprisonment of over 36 years in five terror financing cases at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. His punishment will run concurrently in these cases. There are reports that he is given “VIP protocol” in jail.
Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist on whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty, was arrested on July 17 last year in the terror financing cases. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in February this year in two terror financing cases.
In November, Saeed was sentenced to another 10 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in two more terror financing cases.
The other four JuD leaders convicted by the court on Thursday are Hafiz Abdus Salam, Zafar Iqbal, JuD spokesperson Yahya Mujahid and Muhammad Ashraf.
Each convicted person has also been fined a PKR 200,000.
The ATC also handed down six-month imprisonment to Saeed’s brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki in this case and imposed a fine of PKR 200,000 on him, the official said.
“Judge Ijaz Ahmed of ATC Court No 3 heard the case no 32/19 filed by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in which the verdict has been announced after the statements of witnesses were cross-examined by Saeed and others’ counsels — Naseeruddin Nayyar and Mohammad Imran Fazal Gul Advocate,” the official said.
He said that the JuD leaders including Saeed were brought to the court amid high security and the media was not allowed to cover the proceedings.
A total of 41 cases have been registered by the CTD against the JuD leaders, out of which 28 have been decided while the rest are pending in the ATC courts. Five cases have been decided against Saeed so far.
Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. He was listed under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.
The global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is instrumental in pushing Pakistan to take measures against terrorists roaming freely in Pakistan and using its territory to carry out attacks in India.
The FATF had placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to COVID-19 pandemic.
With Pakistan’s continuation in the ‘grey list’, the country may find it difficult to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the cash-strapped nation.