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US designates Lashkar-e-Jhangvi a terrorist outfit
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC |
January 31, 2003 19:14 IST
The United States has proscribed yet another Pakistan-based terrorist outfit.
"Today, I am taking another important step in our campaign to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. I am designating the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation under US law," Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday.
This brings the tally of Pakistan-based groups listed as FTOs to four.
Among other things, the outfit is believed to be responsible for the abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Following the attacks on the Indian Parliament and the Jammu and Kashmir assembly in 2001, the United States had banned the Laskhar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
In the late 1990s, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was designated an FTO and has remained on the US blacklist ever since.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi 'is a violent Sunni Muslim group located in Pakistan. It is responsible for numerous deadly attacks, and its involvement in the January 2002 kidnapping and killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl has been confirmed', Powell said.
The group has also 'perpetrated bus and church bombings. It claimed responsibility for the 1997 killing of four American oil workers in Karachi. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also attempted to assassinate then Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharief in 1999', he added.
By designating this group as an FTO and publishing that decision in the Federal Register, 'we implement the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act'.
"This act," he said, "makes it illegal for persons in the United States or subject to US jurisdiction to provide material support to designated terrorist groups; it requires US financial institutions to block assets held by them; and it enables us to deny visas to representatives of these groups."
He said he took the decision following consultation 'with the attorney general and the secretary of treasury after an exhaustive review of the group's violent activities'.
The Government of Pakistan 'has already designated the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi a terrorist organisation, and we look forward with Pakistani authorities to shut this group down', he said.
State department spokesperson Richard Boucher said the outfit was also responsible for the March 2002 bus bombing that killed 15 people, including 11 French technicians, and the administration would also be 'moving to the United Nations to include this group on the UN list of terrorist organisations'.
The group also has 'ties to Al Qaeda; they have ties to the Taliban. In addition to receiving sanctuary in Afghanistan from the Taliban for their activities in Pakistan, the group's members fought alongside Taliban fighters', he said.
He said, "Pakistani government investigators in 2002 revealed that Al Qaeda has been involved with the training of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and that the group's fighters also fought alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance.
"In the words of the Pakistani Interior Minister: 'They have been sleeping and eating together, receiving training together, and fighting against the Northern Alliance together in Afghanistan.' That has been corroborated by public media reporting as well as other information."
Asked if the US is aware if they have infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir, Boucher said, "I do not know."
He denied that Powell's announcement was timed to coincide with the visit to Washington of Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. "I do not think it was timed to coincide with it. It is certainly something that we talk to the Pakistanis all the time."