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US puts Pakistani Islamist charity on terror list

Written by: Staff

ISLAMABAD, Apr 29 (Reuters) The United States put two Pakistani charities on its terrorist list on Friday, saying they were fronts for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), one of the most feared Islamist militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.

The State Department announced yesterday that it was freezing assets in the United States belonging to Jamaat ud-Dawa and one of its affiliates, Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq.

Jamaat ud-Dawa has been prominent in providing relief after an earthquake killed over 73,000 people and left around three million destitute in Kashmir and northwest Pakistan in October.

Lashkar, which itself grew out of an anti-US Sunni Muslim missionary group, was put on the US terrorist list in 2001. It has been blamed for several violent attacks in India.

It was also sanctioned by a UN committee on terrorism for its association with al Qaeda, though security analysts say that Lashkar has maintained less strong linkages with Osama bin Laden's network than several other Pakistan jihadi movements.

When Lashkar was banned by the Pakistani government, its leadership simply claimed they were members of Jamaat ud-Dawa and that Lashkar-e-Taiba only operated in Indian-held Kashmir.

Lashkar's founder, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, is head of Jamaat ud-Dawa.

The State Department's move prompted charity spokesman Mohammad Yahya Mujahid to say: ''It is an unjustified and unjust decision against an organisation which has been providing relief to needy people all over the world.'' In a report issued last near the State Department said Lashkar used the charity to gather funds and maintain ties with religious militant groups around the world, ranging from the Philippines to the West Asia and Chechnya.

The Brussels based International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a report in March mentioning Jamaat-ud-Dawa along with Al-Rasheed Trust, Al-Safa Trust, Al-Rehmat Trust, Al-Khair Trust and Al-Akhtar Trust as prominent jihadi groups conducting earthquake relief work, and criticised the government's permissive stance.

''By accepting a major role for banned jihadi groups in humanitarian relief efforts, the government's policies are helping Islamist radicals to bolster their presence in the earthquake affected areas of the North West Frontier Province and Pakistan administered Kashmir.'' Security analysts say that while Pakistan is seen as a key US ally in the war on terrorism, there is impatience with its failure to act more forcibly against some militant groups used in the past to destabilise Afghanistan and Indian Kashmir.

Several other jihadi movements have fallen foul of the Pakistani security apparatus, notably after two assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf in late 2003, but the more disciplined Lashkar has got lightly, according to analysts.


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