Washington: The United States Wednesday imposed financial sanctions on two founding members of the Pakistan based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) held responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks after naming them as terrorists.
However, it still held back from sanctioning the Pakistani state and its intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) despite assertions from official American circles that outfits such as the LeT and Haqqani group are the “virtual arm” of ISI.
Designating Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, US Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen described them as two of the “most significant leaders” of LeT that has been on the US terrorist list since 2001. “Over the past 20 years, Iqbal and Bhuttavi have been responsible for fundraising, recruitment, and indoctrination of operatives,” he said. “By targeting the core of LeT’s leadership, today’s action aims to degrade its ability to facilitate its terrorist activities.”
The sanctions bar US citizens from doing business with the two men and freeze any assets that they may hold under US jurisdiction.
According to the Treasury, Iqbal co-founded LeT in the late 1980s with its current head, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
In 1989 or 1990, the department said, the two men traveled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to seek financial support from Osama bin Laden, then head of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the Sep 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
As of late 2010, Iqbal was in charge of the finance department of LeT, also known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the department said.
Bhuttava was identified as a founding member of LeT and a deputy to Saeed. The Treasury said Bhuttava served as acting emir of LeT “on at least two occasions, including when Saeed was detained in the days after the November 2008 Mumbai attack and held until June 2009.”
Bhuttavi also helped prepare the operatives for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by delivering lectures on the merits of martyrdom, and is responsible for LeT’s madrassa network, the department said.
The US commission that investigated the Sep 11, 2001, attacks warned in its final report that some madrassas have become “incubators for violent extremism.”