From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : FATF
Mains level : Terror funding
The Lashkar-e-Taiba founder (LeT) and Jamat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was convicted by a Pakistan court in two terror-financing cases and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison concurrently.
Why such move?
- With pressure from the international community building up, Pakistan has been trying to convince the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to prevent it getting blacklisted.
- Saeed’s conviction is perhaps a reflection of Pakistan’s changing approach towards its treatment of terror groups, given the FATF’s actions and warnings.
Who is Hafiz Saeed?
- Hafiz Saeed is the founder and leader of the fundamentalist terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which is a group that follows an extreme interpretation of religious texts.
- It was founded in 1990 and its goals include conducting jihad, preaching the true religion and training the new generation along true religious lines.
- Some of its goals are aligned with that of Pakistan, including the liberation of Kashmir from India.
Why his conviction matters?
- Saeed is also the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
- Other attacks that LeT has been involved in include the 2001 shootout at Parliament House in New Delhi, and, most recently, the 2016 attack on the military headquarters in Uri.
- In 2012, in order to support India in its attempt to extradite Saeed, the US State Department offered a bounty of up to $10 million for information that could lead to his arrest or conviction.
- Moreover, the US Department of the Treasury has marked Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist since 2012.
- ISI and the Pakistani government too help the LeT bring in funds, and it is believed to have fund-raising offices in Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and the Gulf region.
A shield against FATF actions
- The FATF placed Pakistan in the grey list in July 2018 nonetheless.
- Before Saeed’s arrest, the FATF had warned Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing. Pakistan feared being a part of FATF’s “Grey List”.
- Significantly, if Pakistan did not follow up on FATF’s warnings, it could potentially be downgraded to the Black List, which would make things more difficult for the country.
- FATF is de facto run by the US Treasury Department.