The FATF on Monday said several terrorist groups continue to benefit from funds raised through illegal activities and from supporters worldwide despite the international terror financing watchdog tightening the standards on the flow of money.
India has maintained that Pakistan extends regular support to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen, whose prime target is India, and has urged FATF to take action against Islamabad.
The week-long Financial Action Task Force plenary, currently on in Paris, will decide Pakistan’s fate — whether it will continue in the FATF’s ”Grey List”, or will be put in the ”Black List” or escape from listing.
Without naming Pakistan, the FATF said in a statement that terrorists use various methods to gain financing, including using social media to identify new followers and to solicit financial or other forms of material support.
Individuals sympathetic to humanitarian causes or vulnerable to violent messaging are often targeted, it said.
“The FATF has tightened its standards on terrorist financing which has helped disrupt access to funds for groups such as ISIL and Al-Qaeda. However, various groups still benefit from funds raised through illegal activity and from supporters worldwide,” the Paris headquartered FATF said.
The FATF said it is monitoring terrorist financing risks and works to help authorities trace funding to strengthen prosecutions.
“The FATF is also monitoring illicit financing via new payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies,” it said.
The plenary is examining the money laundering and terrorist financing risks that countries face to set and promote global standards to tackle these risks.
Last week, a Pakistani court had convicted Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief, Hafiz Saeed, in two terror-financing cases and has sentenced him to prison for five and a half years with a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case.
This came as Pakistan continues to face pressure from the international community to curb terror activities on its soil.
A Lahore anti-terrorism court (ATC) convicted Saeed under the Anti-Terrorism Act Section 11-F(2) – pertaining to membership, support and meetings relating to a proscribed organisation – and 11-N (punishment under Sections 11-H [fund raising] to 11-K [money laundering]).
In December last, the court in Pakistan had indicted Hafiz Saeed on terror financing charges.
However, India has given a guarded response to reports of Saeed’s conviction by the Pakistani court. It appeared unimpressed with Pakistan’s decision to sentence JeM chief and mastermind of the Mumbai attack to 11 years in prison for terror financing, calling it part of Islamabad’s international obligation. It further asked its neighbour Pakistan to act on all terrorist leaders and groups operating there and ensure that they are arrested.
“The decision has been made on the eve of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary meeting, which begins from Sunday. Hence, the efficacy of this decision remains to be seen,” government sources had said.
FATF, the international terror financing watchdog, had noted in its meeting held in October 2019 that Pakistan addressed only five out of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling funding to terror groups like the LeT, JeM, and Hizbul Mujahideen, responsible for a series of attacks in India. The FATF strongly urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020. In the Beijing meeting held late last year, Pakistan had provided a list of actions taken to comply with the FATF diktat.
Pakistan was placed on the “grey list” by FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete by October 2019 or face the risk of being placed on the blacklist along with Iran and North Korea.
(With PTI inputs)