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February 23, 2018

FATF meeting informed: Pakistan launches massive crackdown on FIF, JuD, LeT

Top Story

February 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan's counterterrorism authorities have launched massive crackdown against three entities linked to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed by freezing their property worth around a million dollars and taking several other serious measures to block their funding.

Pakistan made the efforts to avoid being put on the list of countries of allegedly financing terrorism by the global money laundering watchdog. Islamabad has already won a three-month reprieve at meetings of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) being concluded in Paris today (Friday).

“Pakistan confiscated assets (properties) worth Rs96 million of JuD and FIF. The key leaders of the JuD and FIF were declared proscribed pursuant to section 11-EE of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

Pakistan took this action on its own initiative to limit the space for the individuals and to keep their activities under watch,” read the official documents, exclusively available with this correspondent. Pakistan's progress report on implementation of the ‘UNSC Resolution-1267,’ was also submitted at the FATF meeting in Paris. The “JuD and FIF Markaz were taken over by the state by freezing 121 bank accounts under the UNSC Resolution-1267, having deposits of around $100 million. This includes 69 bank accounts containing Rs10.97 million ofJuD, LeT and FIF of concerns (19 accounts) and associated individuals (50 accounts),” the documents further revealed that Pakistan has ensured the implementation of UNSC’s resolutions putting LeT, JuD, FIF, ISIS, al-Qaeda and other groups on the terror watchlist.

The "LeT has no public presence in the country and does not conduct any public fundraising. The organisation remains under the surveillance of the law enforcement agencies," added the documents.

The individuals linked with LeT, JuD and FIF and declared proscribed offenders under the terror laws include Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal Shahbaz, Abdul Rehman Abid, and Qazi Kashif Hussain, according to the documents accessed by Geo News. Pakistan also established Counter Financing of Terrorism Units (CFTUs) to focus on the financial aspect of the investigation as a core task in money laundering, terrorist financing, assets tracing and other necessary skills.

Pakistan's authorities also initiated strict action to prevent collection of hides by such entities, by registering 438 cases against individuals throughout the country in the past six months. Among them 65 cases were registered against individuals associated with the JuD and FIF. Over 18 kiosks, camps, donation boxes and booths of FIF were dismantled and destroyed, read the documents.

Pakistan also has frozen accounts of proscribed individuals listed to the 4th Schedule of the ATA, 1997 in accordance with section 11-O of this law. Under this action, 5,094 bank accounts having Rs 157.235 million have been frozen, revealed the documents.

The government also registered cases against 81 individuals of FIF and JuD and the Ministry of Interior issued directives to all federal and provincial authorities to take action against proscribed/watch-listed/designated entities linked to JuD and FIF if found gathering funds and collecting sacrificial hides’.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) also developed an e-portal system to launch complaints against the misuse of internet for the purposes of terrorism and the financing of terrorism. Initially, 41 URLs associated with LeT, JuD, FIF have been blocked inside Pakistan thus preventing the entities of concern from raising funds online, the documents revealed. The authority also sought help of the international partners to block hundreds of URLs linked to proscribed organisations. It re-emerged that blocking of such websites, links through numerous proxy sites and applications was not possible.

The official documents further revealed that PTA blocked 14 URLs of JuD and FIF to restrict their online fund raising activities. However, as these websites are hosted on foreign servers, this action is limited to blocking their viewing within Pakistan and there is possibility that they remain accessible abroad as well as through proxy, VPN applications. Islamabad also requested France and USA to block these websites at source in their jurisdictions; however, action from their end is still awaited, added the documents. Some 52 secured web pages i.e. web content hosted on “https” protocols (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter etc.) were identified by PTA which cannot be blocked at individual URL level rather the whole website has to be shut down.

The PTA took up the issue with respective platforms in the context of UNSCR sanctions for blocking these sites at source. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also taken up this matter with the countries concerned to ensure the blocking of these web links by the host server companies. Pakistani media regulatory authorities have been directed not to air point of view of proscribed or designated organisations, including LeT, JuD and FIF and its operators for public appeal of funds and propaganda purposes. In this context, advice, warnings and show cause notices were issued to 16 satellite private TV channels in the last two years on violations of applicable Pemra laws, rules and code of conduct.

Pakistan also got registered its serious concerns over the leaking of the confidential proceedings of the ICRG meeting in Buenos Aires (Oct 2017) by India to the media. Pakistan also raised this concern with the Asia Pacific Group of thr FATF but no action was taken against India (member of both FATF and APG) for repeated breaches of FATF’s confidentiality procedures, added the documents.