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Banned terror outfits back in business in Pak

Last updated on: September 10, 2003 18:57 IST

The five Pakistani militant outfits, including Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayiba, banned last year by President Pervez Musharraf following mounting international pressure, are back in business with changed identities, a media report said on Wednesday.

A report in Herald magazine said four of Pakistan's top sectarian outfits have effectively regrouped and are operating their networks as openly as before. The report quoted Pakistani intelligence reports.

"According to a report prepared by Pakistani intelligence earlier this year to assess the situation a year after the ban was enforced, the move has failed to check either the activities or the relentless funding of these terror outfits from all corners of the world," the reports said.

The military dominated government in Pakistan has been able to do little to stop the funding from Saudi Arabia and other countries to the terror groups, even in cases where Pakistani missions abroad were aware of the identities of sponsors of these organisations, the report said.

It said JeM, which was formed by Maulana Masood Azhar after his release from an Indian prison following the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu to Kandahar in 1999, now operates under a new name -- Khadim-e-Islam -- and its military training camps in Batrasi, Manshera and Balakot are back in action.

Jaish's finances are handled by five men from Lahore and Sheikhupura in Pakistan and the outfit has a network of donors from different countries.

The report identified the five men who collect funds for the outfit as Hafiz Tariq Masood, Qari Eshan and Shabaz Haider of Lahore and Qari Abdul Hafeez and Mohammed Tariq in Sheikhupura.

"These men were the key to the Jaish's organisational gains in Lahore, where the group has established 21 local offices in a short span of three years," the report said.

Similarly, Lashkar-e-Tayiba, whose parent organisation has changed its name from Markaz Ad-Dawa to Jamaat Ad-Dawa is back in action with its leader Hafeez Mohammad Saeed busy touring Punjab province to reorganise the group and recruit more fighters.

"The Lashkar donation boxes are also back in many cities, including the posh F-10 Markaz Market in Islamabad," the report said.

While Lashkar's militant camps were shut down following Musharraf's assurances to US President George Bush, Saeed continues to enjoy considerable support in military circles, thanks to his friend and former ISI chief Lt Gen Hameed Gul.

The report said Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan changed its name to Millat-e-Islamia after the ban and continues to draw huge amounts of money from its foreign patrons. Its leader Maulana Azam Tariq contested the last general election to the national assembly and won as an independent.

Tariq is a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Musharraf and a bitter critic of the opposition agitation against the president's constitutional amendments.

The report said the ISI has listed the names of 14 of SSP's top office-bearers, most of whom remain at large even after a lapse of nearly 20 months since the ban was implemented.

According to intelligence reports SSP continues to receive anywhere between 200,000 and 300,000 Saudi riyals a month through one Wajid Ali who shuttles between Jhang and Jeddah to organise and regulate the flow of funds.

Ali is assisted by Abdur Razzak, formerly a resident of Kamalia, Faisalabad, and now based in Saudi Arabia.

Ali's other contacts in the royal kingdom include a Medina-based Saudi national Abdul Hafeez Makki and Maulana
Saifur Rehman.

Of the most wanted SSP activists, 11 are based in Saudi Arabia, six in London, three in US, two each in Germany and France and one each in Canada, Norway, Italy, Hong Kong, Qatar, Dubai and Bangladesh.

The Shia sectarian extremist Tehrik-e-Jafria of Pakistan, which was also banned for indulging in killings of Sunnis, continues to get money from wealthy businessmen and Iran, the Herald report said.

"Pakistani security officials are convinced that Iran is supplying money as well as weapons to TJP militants, while Iranians in major Pakistan cities are secretly providing training to Shia militants," it added.