Just before the meetings of the global watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in January and February, Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has arrested Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi on charges of using terror funds.
“[Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi] is accused of running a dispensary using funds collected for terrorism financing. He and others also collected funds from this dispensary and used them for further terrorism financing and for personal expenses,” said the Counter Terrorism Department police spokesperson of the Pakistani province of Punjab.
The spokesperson further said that Lakhvi’s offences were compounded by the fact that he is on the United Nation’s Security Council list of banned terrorists (under the UNSC 1267/1373 committee), and thus cannot have recourse to any funds without special clearance.
The case is expected to be heard by the Anti-Terrorism court in Lahore, the statement said.
Indian officials have questioned the seriousness of the actions, saying it had become routine for Pakistan to showcase arrests of key terrorist figures just before FATF meetings.
Pakistan has been retained on the grey list by FATF, but faces a blacklisting if it fails to complete a 27-point action plan to curb terrorism financing and money laundering.
In its previous plenary session in October 2020, the 39-member FATF had decided to give Pakistan three months more to complete the action plan, in which it has cleared 21 of the 27 points, with six outstanding.
In particular, the FATF plenary outcomes had told Pakistan’s government that it must demonstrate “effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all [UNSC] 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets, and prohibiting access to funds and financial services” and show effective prosecution against them as well.
At least 146 U.N. banned terrorists are Pakistani citizens, but India has been closely pursuing the prosecution of Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar through international channels like FATF for their role in continuing terror attacks.
“Action against Lakhvi is long overdue. Had Pakistan acted against Lakhvi and Azhar last year, they would have been near a conviction, like Hafiz Saeed who has now been convicted. With this ‘one-by-one’ prolonged approach, Pakistan is harming its own strategic interests, and delaying completing the action plan it has been given,” explained an official.