Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s crucial decision on whether to blacklist Pakistan, the US said that the country must prevent terrorist groups from operating on its soil and prosecute top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives along with its leader Hafiz Saeed.
Alice Wells, head of the US state department’s South and Central Asian Bureau, also welcomed the arrest the top four leaders of LeT in Pakistan on Thursday.
“As Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, Pakistan, for its own future, must prevent militant groups from operating on its soil,” Wells tweeted.
“We welcome news that Pakistan arrested 4 #LeT leaders. The victims of LeT’s vicious attacks deserve to see these individuals prosecuted now, along with LeT leader Hafiz Saeed,” she said.
Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) had on Thursday arrested four aides of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed. The top four arrested terrorists have been identified as Professor Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam.
Earlier, the CTD had arrested two suspected terrorists associated with a banned outfit during a raid in Gujranwala. The suspects were arrested during a raid near Alipur Chowk, according to CTD officials. The arrested terrorists were identified as Muhammad Akmal and Ghulam Hussain.
In July, Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed was arrested by the CTD of Pakistan’s Punjab Province and has been on judicial remand ever since.
Following global pressure, Pakistan had on July 3 booked Hafiz Saeed and his 12 accomplices for “terrorism financing” in 23 cases.
The US had earlier expressed doubts over Pakistan’s intention in arresting the terrorist, saying his previous arrests made no difference either to his activities or that of his outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.
“We’ve seen this happen in the past. And we have been looking for sustained and concrete steps, not just window dressing,” a senior administration official had said.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Hafiz Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the United States, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Hafiz Saeed to justice.
The FATF had in August put Pakistan in the “enhanced expedited follow-up list” (blacklist) for its failure to meet its standards. The global watchdog for terror financing and money laundering had found that Pakistan was non-compliant on 32 of the 40 compliance parameters of terror financing and money laundering.
The FATF last year placed Pakistan on the grey list of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terror financing.
Meanwhile, the FATF will on Monday discuss steps taken by Pakistan to stop money laundering and terrorist financing in its plenary meeting slated to begin in the French capital of Paris.
In case, the FATF is satisfied with the steps taken by Pakistan, the procedure to remove it from the grey list can start. However, the body may consider steps to include Pakistan in its black list in case Islamabad fails to how it has taken sufficient measure to curb the menace.