A court in Pakistan on Wednesday convicted Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in two terror financing cases, Dawn reported. Saeed, the leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, is the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He was sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in each case but the sentences will run concurrently.
The sentencing came two days before global terror financing and money laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force holds its plenary in Paris. A final decision on Pakistan’s “grey list” status is expected at this plenary. The court also imposed a fine of Pakistani Rs 15,000 (INR 6,937) on Saeed in each case.
In October last year, the Financial Action Task Force indicted Pakistan for failing to deliver on 22 out of 27 targets it had set for the country. The task force also warned Pakistan it will be blacklisted if it fails to achieve the targets within four months.
The inter-governmental body sets standards for fighting illicit finance globally. In June last year, it asked Pakistan to complete an action plan on terror financing and urged Islamabad to meet the October 2019 deadline. In June 2018, Pakistan was put on its “grey list” and given the 27-point action plan.
Anti-terrorism court judge Arshad Hussain Bhatta announced the verdict on Wednesday and also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 in both the cases on Saeed. The court also directed authorities to keep Saeed under custody until further orders.
On December 11, the court had indicted Saeed and others in terror financing cases in a day-to-day hearing.
Thirteen leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which Saeed heads, were booked in July last year in almost two dozen cases of terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. Saeed was arrested from Gujranwala district of Punjab province on July 17.
The Counter-Terrorism Department registered the cases in five cities in Punjab province, and accused the Jamaat-ud-Dawa of financing terrorism from the money collected through non-profit organisations and trusts such as Al-Anfal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust and others. These non-profit organisations had been banned in April.
The case against Saeed was transferred from a court in Gujranwala to Lahore in September after he claimed there was a threat to his life.