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US slaps sanctions on 8 LeT leaders including Sajid Mir

August 30, 2012 21:58 IST

The United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Tayiba's top eight commanders, including Mumbai terrorist attack mastermind Sajid Mir and its founder Hafiz Saeed's son.

Announcing the sanctions, the US said the LeT, despite being designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in January 2002, continues to 'operate in Pakistan' and throughout the region and engage in terrorist activities world-wide.

"LeT has conducted numerous terrorist acts against Pakistani, Indian, Afghan and the US interests and is responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed more than  160 people, including six Americans, and the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings that killed more than 180 people," the department of treasury said.

Besides Mir, other LeT leaders slapped with sanctions are Abdullah Mujahid, Ahmed Yaqub, Hafiz Khalid Walid, Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, Amir Hamza,  Abdullah Muntazir, and Talha Saeed, the son of the LeT leader Saeed.

Individuals targetted on Thursday are based in Pakistan and involved in LeT's propaganda campaigns, financial networks, and logistic support networks.

"Thursday's targets also include military commanders directly responsible for the murderous 2008 Mumbai attacks as well as attacks on coalition and Afghan forces.  These designations are designed to undermine LeT's leadership and support networks of LeT that have planned terrorist attacks around the world," the department said.

"The action against LeT is Treasury's most comprehensive to date against this group and includes individuals participating in all aspects of LeT's operations -- from commanders planning attacks to those managing LeT's relationships with other terrorist groups," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S Cohen said.

"Attacking LeT's facilitation networks is particularly important, since charitable donations LeT raises in Pakistan -- its primary revenue source -- are used to fuel LeT's terrorist operations," Cohen said.

Mir had directed LeT training for operatives preparing for overseas recruiting, money laundering and operational planning on behalf of LeT.

After 9/11, Mir recruited four Virginia-based operatives, cleared them for LeT's terrorist training, and directed them to monitor and research US target sites, the Treasury said.

Abdullah Mujahid has been a member of LeT since 1988 and now is senior commander for its operations in Afghanistan. He was also in charge of LeT maritime training activities in Punjab Province, Pakistan.

As of 2009, Mujahid headed LeT's air wing and, as of 2004, he was a member of LeT's military council, alternatively referred to as Fedayan Kitab Wa Sunnah.

"Mujahid's LeT assignments have also included serving as commander for operations along the Pakistan-India border. As of early 2003, Mujahid had replaced Azam Cheema as LeT's chief of India operations," the Treasury said.

Ahmed Yaqub was the head of LeT's maritime programme, alternatively described as the group's naval wing. In this role, Yaqub looked after an LeT cell run by Sajid Mir for operational purposes. He was deputy to LeT's operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, for whom he had worked since 1984.

"As of 2011, Yaqub also had been LeT's chief for Bangladesh and Nepal operations. Yaqub had attempted to smuggle 60,000 rounds of ammunition from Pakistan into Bangladesh on behalf of LeT as of late 2009, but failed when Bangladeshi authorities intercepted the shipment," the treasury said.

Hafiz Khalid Walid has run LeT's political bureau since mid-2008, though Hafiz Abdur Rehman Makki holds the formal title as the bureau's head.

In 2006, Walid was the deputy head of LET's foreign relations department. As of 2011, Walid actively engaged in LeT political affairs under LeT emir Hafiz Saeed's direction.

In 2008, when multiple LeT senior leaders were in detention following the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Walid served as a lead LeT official in Punjab Province, Pakistan, the Treasury said.

Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, has served as a leader in LeT's foreign affairs department since 2006, including acting as the department's deputy director of political and foreign affairs between 2008 and 2009. Between 2008 and 2011, Sheikh ran LeT front organizations that were used to raise funds and recruit on behalf of the group.

Sheikh ran Falah-e Insaniat Foundation, a front used by LeT for fundraising purposes, from early 2009 until mid-2010, when he was replaced as the FIF head by Hafiz Abdur Rauf. He has also worked with LET's international donors.

Amir Hamza has led an LeT-associated charity and was also an officer and member of an LeT university trust that was led by Saeed. His responsibilities also included publishing propaganda on behalf of LeT.

Hamza has served as editor of an LeT weekly newspaper and, as of mid-2011, he was contributing articles to the LeT publication. Abdullah Muntazir served as LeT's spokesman for international media from 2005 to 2009.

He founded Ghazwa, an LeT weekly publication.

In late 2008, Muntazir published a solicitation for donations to LeT on the group's website; the plea provided 'ten solid reasons' to financially contribute to LeT and asked readers to 'come join' the organisation.

As of mid-2008, Muntazir also ran LeT's monthly children's magazine. In 2006 and 2007, Muntazir served as an LeT press secretary.

Identifying Talha Saeed as a prominent leader within LeT since early 2005, the Treasury Department said as of mid-2011, he headed the group's teachers department, using this position to acquire facilities on behalf of LeT.

He also worked on websites to support LeT's media operations as well as on indoctrination and propaganda programs. Talha founded an LeT front group which he planned to use to pay journalists to write favorable stories on behalf of LeT.

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