US slaps sanctions on LeT, JeM
LALIT K JHA
Washington, Nov 5: Ahead of President, Barack Obama’s maiden visit to India, the US has slapped sanctions on Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e- Muhammad, besides targeting LeT commander, Azam Cheema, ‘a key operational figure’ in the 26/11 attacks.
The Treasury Department took action against Cheema, who ‘helped train’ operatives for the 26/11 attacks and was the ‘mastermind’ behind the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, an official statement said yesterday.
Washington’s action comes hours before Obama leaves on four-day visit to India, which has been pressing the US to lean on Pakistan to take strong and transparent action against the groups operating from its territory.
Obama’s first halt will be Mumbai where he will stay at Taj hotel, the scene of attacks in 2008. The attacks at Taj and other places in Mumbai had left 166 people dead and over 300 injured.
The department targeted financial and support network of the two groups. It also acted against Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, head of LeT’s political affairs department, for acting for or on behalf of LeT.
The US also targeted al-Rehmat Trust, an operational front for JeM and the group’s top leader Muhammad Masood Azhar Alvi.
“LeT and JeM have proven both their willingness and ability to execute attacks against civilians,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey.
“Today’s action – including the designation of Azam Cheema, one of LeT’s leading commanders who was involved in the 2008 and 2006 Mumbai attacks – is an important step in incapacitating the operational and financial networks of these deadly organizations,” he said.
Cheema is a key commander in the operations of LeT which has been held responsible for the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai. The group has been closely associated with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.
Cheema has also been described as LeT’s surveillance or intelligence chief and has been involved in LeT’s training activities, specifically training LeT members in bomb making and skills needed to infiltrate India.
He is also reported to have been allegedly involved in the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings perpetrated by LeT. In July 2006, a series of coordinated bombings of trains in Mumbai killed nearly 200 people.
In early 2007, he gave approximately USD 248,000 to a LeT training camp and approximately USD 165,000 to a LeT-affiliated madrassa, the Treasury department said.
It said after JeM was banned in Pakistan in 2002, it began using al Rehmat Trust as a front for its operations.
The Trust has provided support for militant activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including financial and logistical support to foreign fighters operating in both countries.
In early 2009, several prominent members of the Trust were recruiting students for Afghanistan.
The Trust has also been involved in fundraising for JeM, including for militant training and indoctrination at its Masjids and madrassas.
As of early 2009, the Trust had initiated a donation program in Pakistan to help support families of militants who had been arrested or killed. And in early 2007, it was raising funds on behalf of Khudam-ul Islam, an alias for JeM.
The Trust has also provided financial support and other services to the Taliban, including financial support to wounded Taliban fighters from Afghanistan.
Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi founded JeM in 2000 and is the head of al Rehmat Trust. He is also a former leader of the Harakat-ul-Mujahadin, also known as Harkat-ul-Ansar; most of these groups’ members subsequently joined JeM under Azhar’s leadership.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 5 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 5 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 6 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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LALIT K JHA
Washington, Nov 5: Ahead of President, Barack Obama’s maiden visit to India, the US has slapped sanctions on Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e- Muhammad, besides targeting LeT commander, Azam Cheema, ‘a key More