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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

No let up in terror fund-raising in Pakistan, wake-up call for FATF

Fund-raising at mosques for the cause of Kashmir and Palestine, and the idea of jihad, have become mainstream in Pakistani society. Recently, a video on social media showed two turbaned men collecting donations on behalf of global terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Peshawar during Eid celebrations.

Similar videos and photographs of terror organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) helping flood-affected people and recruiting youth had surfaced last year. A Pakistani activist told India Narrative that fund-raising for jihad has become a routine activity in the country. “Every Friday, you will find people collecting money in most mosques in Pakistan, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. You will witness the activity in cities like Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi,” says the activist.

This fund-raising activity, which is a public and visible activity, is significant in many ways.

One, it helps to divert international attention away from the Pakistani government, the army and Pakistan’s spy agencies which are the main supporters for terror organisations like JeM and LeT. Therefore, fund-raising publicly helps in building opinion that the masses support jihad and the people are funding Pakistan’s terror organisations.

The second point is that the masses become a stakeholder in the idea of jihad and the ideology remains alive among the society. For the terror groups, it becomes easy to recruit people for their radical activities.

“The money collected is small and is kept by the local commanders for supplementary activities – arranging food, daily upkeep and given to parents to send their sons to the madrasa for ’40 days’. The 40-day training has faith-based significance and during this time the boys are indoctrinated into the idea of jihad and jannat. Meanwhile, the parents are happy with the new-found source of income in poverty-stricken Pakistan,” says the activist.

He adds that the Pakistani army and the ISI take care of the terror groups. “All the weapons are provided by the army and the various agencies. The fund-raising in mosques is a miniscule amount only to keep the idea of jihad alive,” adds the activist.

Geopolitical activist Mark Kinra says: “The attack by the JeM-backed People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF) followed Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Asim Munir’s support to Kashmiri groups at the passing out parade in Kakul Military Academy shows Pakistan’s total support to terror groups in Kashmir. Because of the fear of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Pakistan may temporarily sideline JeM or terror leaders like Maulana Masood Azhar but it will create new groups like PAFF to continue the terror momentum, all the while pulling wool over FATF eyes.”

It was in October 2022 that FATF removed Pakistan from its grey list of countries financing terror and indulging in money laundering. Around the same time, Pakistan’s largest private sector bank, Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) was battling allegations that it had financed global terror organisation Al-Qaeda, leading to the deaths and injuries to hundreds of people in Afghanistan.

Months later, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, was spotted in Rawalpindi protected by a ring of Pakistani soldiers. He was threatening to attack Indians at the funeral prayers of a top terrorist, Bashir Ahmad Peer, who had been killed in Pakistan in February 2023.

With terror financing unabated, the FATF may need to wake up and re-scruitinise Pakistani state’s complicity in spreading global terror.


(This article has been published via a syndicated feed)

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