Global anti-terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force on Monday said several terrorist groups continue to benefit from funds raised through illegal activities and from supporters worldwide despite tight standards on the flow of money, PTI reported.
The statement was made at the plenary in Paris ahead of a decision on whether to retain Pakistan on its “greylist” of countries of concern or downgrade it to its “blacklist” for non-compliance or let it off for progress shown to counter terror financing and money laundering networks.
In October last year, the Financial Action Task Force had 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.
Without naming Pakistan, the global watchdog in a statement said that terrorists use various methods to launder money, including use of social media to identify new followers for financing and other forms of material support. It added that individuals sympathetic to humanitarian causes or vulnerable to violent messaging are often targeted in the process.
“The FATF has tightened its standards on terrorist financing, which has helped disrupt access to funds for groups such as ISIL and Al-Qaeda,” the global watchdog said. “However, various groups still benefit from funds raised through illegal activity and from supporters worldwide.”
The global body said it was also monitoring illicit financing through new payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies.
India, which is a member of the Financial Action Task Force, has repeatedly asked Pakistan to take necessary steps to meet international standards in stopping financial crimes. Being on a blacklist of the financial watchdog has the potential to severely cripple and isolate a country financially, which could lead to a downgraded credit rating and denial of loans and developmental assistance. Islamabad’s economy is already struggling with a balance of payment crisis.
At the plenary, it is expected that Pakistan will highlight the conviction of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed last week. A court in Lahore had sentenced him to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in two terror financing cases. However, the Indian government had questioned the efficacy of the verdict and had said it was peculiar that the decision was taken on the eve of the plenary meeting of global anti-terror financing watchdog.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had on February 14 said he would help Pakistan stay off a terrorism financing blacklist. Support from Turkey and longtime allies like China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia could help Pakistan remain off the blacklist. A minimum of three votes are required for any country to escape the blacklisting.