US Sanctioned LeT's Hafiz And Zaki Lakhvi In May

7 December 2008
The Times of India


Washington DC: A 'retired' Pakistani army commander who is said to have masterminded the Mumbai carnage and his ideological mentor who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba were both named in a US Treasury department notification advancing financial sanctions against terrorists as recently as May this year. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the Pakistani army man who the captured gunman Mohammed Ajmal Kasav says trained the LeT terror module that attacked Mumbai is not some shadowy unknown figure as some would make him. A May 27 Treasury notification targeting LeT leadership chronicles his terrorist exploits, which extend beyond India to Iraq and Southeast Asia. 'Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is LeT's chief of operations. In this capacity, Lakhvi has directed LeT military operations, including in Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq, and Southeast Asia. Lakhvi instructed LET associates in 2006 to train operatives for suicide bombings. Prior to that, Lakhvi instructed LeT operatives to conduct attacks in well-populated areas,' the notification records. 'Lakhvi, in 2004, sent operatives and funds to attack US forces in Iraq. Lakhvi also directed an LeT operative to travel to Iraq in 2003 to assess the jihad situation there. In past years, Lakhvi has also played an important role in LeT fundraising activities, reportedly receiving al-Qaida-affiliated donations on behalf of LeT,' it adds, noting that one of his aliases is 'Chachajee.' Lakhvi is a Pakistani army 'floater' cut loose by the parent organization for jihadi activities so that the establishment can maintain 'plausible deniability,' according some terrorism experts. Such floaters or free-lancers are used to train militants to maintain Pakistan's equity with the Taliban and al-Qaida even as it officially supports the war on terror as a 'front-line ally.' Such 'retired' Pakistani armymen have been frequently captured in Afghanistan and Kashmir in the company of Taliban and other jihadis. The Treasury list is led by 'Prof' Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the hennaed hero of Pakistani jihadis who claims Pakistani establishment support and insists he has never been indicted in terrorist activities anywhere, particularly since the LeT itself was banned by Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2002 and he migrated his organization into the charitable Jamaar-ud-Dawa. But going by the Treasury notification HP-996, the LeT did not melt away, not did Saeed's role in it end. Both were engaged in terrorism in the years thereafter. 'Muhammad Saeed is LeT's overall leader and chief and plays a key role in LeT's operational and fundraising activities worldwide,' the Treasury notification says in the present tense, adding,'Saeed oversaw the management of a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2006, including funding of the camp, which prepared militants to fight against Coalition forces in Afghanistan.' It goes on to add that, Saeed, in 2005, determined where graduates of an LET camp in Pakistan should be sent to fight, and personally organized the infiltration of LeT militants into Iraq during a trip to Saudi Arabia. That same year, Saeed arranged for an LeT operative to be sent to Europe as LeT's European fundraising coordinator. Two other LeT operatives in the Treasury sanctions list are Haji Muhammad Ashraf, cited as LeT's chief of finance, and Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq who is credited with being the main financier behind the establishment of the LeT and its activities in the 1980s and 1990s and who also served as the leader of LeT in Saudi Arabia. The Treasury notification records that 'despite being banned by the Government of Pakistan in January 2002, LeT continues to operate in Kashmir and engage in or support terrorist activities worldwide.' LeT was designated a terrorist organization pursuant to US. Executive Order 13224 on December 20, 2001, and again under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 on May 2, 2005. The US Department of State named LeT a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on December 26, 2001. While issuing the latest notification, Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), describes LeT as a 'dangerous al-Qaida affiliate that has demonstrated its willingness to murder innocent civilians...LeT's transnational nature makes it crucial for governments worldwide to do all they can to stifle LeT's fundraising and operations.' The mid-year notification records that LeT has conducted numerous attacks against Indian military and civilian targets since 1993. The Government of India implicated LeT in the July 2006 attack on multiple Mumbai commuter trains, and in the December 2001 attack against the Indian Parliament, it notes. LeT is also suspected of involvement in attacks in New Delhi in October 2005, and in Bangalore in December 2005. In March 2002, senior al-Qaida leader Abu Zubaydah was captured at an LeT safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan, it adds, stacking up the case for what many analysts believe is a proxy of the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.