Pak court acquits LeT, JuD leaders

Islamabad: Weeks after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) asked Pakistan to ensure its counter-terror financing probes are targeting commanders of UN-designated groups, a case against three key leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has collapsed due to an improper investigation.

The Lahore high court set aside a counter-terrorism court’s conviction of six senior leaders of the LeT and its front organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the charge of terror financing against the men.

At the conclusion of its plenary meeting on October 21, FATF had retained Pakistan in its “grey list” and urged the country to do more to investigate and prosecute leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups involved in terror financing.

In April, an anti-terrorism court in Lahore had given a nine-year prison term to senior LeT and JuD leaders Malik Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Mujahid, Nasarullah, Samiullah and Umar Bahadur, and a six-month jail sentence to Abdul Rahman Makki, the brother-in-law of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed.

The Lahore high court set aside their conviction and acquitted all six men, with an unnamed court official saying that the prosecution had failed to prove the charge against the men beyond any reasonable doubt.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of its plenary meeting, FATF had called on Pakistan to address as soon as possible the sole remaining item in its 27-point action plan to counter terror financing by “continuing to demonstrate that [terror financing] investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups”.

People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that Pakistan often arrests and charges leaders of terror groups such as LeT ahead of meetings of FATF to create the impression that it is cracking down on terror. Often, investigations in such cases are not thorough and cases are rushed through the lower courts, the people said.

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