Hafiz Saeed convicted in another terror financing case, sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison

Published November 19, 2020
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the banned Jamatu Dawa, looks over the crowd as they end a "Kashmir Caravan" from Lahore with a protest in Islamabad on July 20, 2016. — Reuters/File
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the banned Jamatu Dawa, looks over the crowd as they end a "Kashmir Caravan" from Lahore with a protest in Islamabad on July 20, 2016. — Reuters/File

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Thursday convicted Jamatud Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed in another case of terror financing, sentencing him to five and a half years' imprisonment and a fine of Rs110,000.

Saeed is already in jail serving two sentences of five-and-a-half-years each, handed down to him in February this year, which means he will not serve any extra jail time.

Another JuD leader Malik Zafar Iqbal was also awarded a similar sentence. The case against the JuD leadership was filed by the Counter-Terrorism Department last year.

“An anti-terrorism court in Lahore sentenced ten-and-a-half years imprisonment to chief of Jamatud Dawa Hafiz Saeed, his deputy Zafar Iqbal, and spokesman Yahya Mujahid on charges of terror financing,” Saeed's lawyer Imran Fazal Gill told Reuters.

“Since the convict has already been convicted [...] by this court vide judgment dates 12.02.2020, so the punishment awarded to him in this case shall also run concurrently with punishment in said cases,” said the court order which was seen by Reuters.

Appeals have been filed against the previous sentences, Gill said.

The conviction comes as Pakistan tries to avoid punitive blacklisting by global dirty money watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which judges a country's ability to combat illicit financing, including to militant organisations.

Pakistan has remained on the “grey list” since 2018.

In FATF's last review in October, Pakistan was urged to complete an internationally agreed action plan by February 2021 and to demonstrate that terrorism financing probes resulted in effective sanctions.

Saeed's lawyer said his client was convicted under FATF pressure.

Saeed's arrest and cases

The JuD chief was arrested by CTD in July last year, while he was travelling from Lahore to Gujranwala. Prior to his arrest, 23 first information reports had been registered against JuD leaders, including Saeed and JuD Naib Emir Abdul Rehman Makki, at CTD police stations of Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Sargodha in July 2019.

According to the CTD, JuD was financing terrorism from the massive funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc. These non-profit organisations were banned in April last year as the CTD, during detailed investigations, found that they had links with the JuD and its top leadership.

The government had also announced a ban on JuD and Falah-e-Insanyat Foundation (FIF) to partially address the concerns raised by India that Pakistan supported these and six similar organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) or at least considered them low-risk entities.

Law enforcement agencies over the next few weeks had intensified their crackdown on JeM, JuD, FIF and other banned outfits, and arrested more than 100 activists. Nearly 200 seminaries besides hundreds of other facilities and assets associated with them across the country were taken over by the government.

Saeed, who in November 2018 was set free from a 300-day-long house arrest, has been repeatedly accused by the US and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial capital that killed 166 people.

Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the US and UN over his alleged role in the Mumbai attacks. JuD is considered by the US and India to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group blamed for the attacks.

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