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US says Pakistani ‘charity’ front for banned militants JuD condemns ‘terror’ label

ISLAMABAD, June 26, (Agencies): The US State Department has named a self-proclaimed Pakistani charity as a “foreign terrorist organization”, a status that freezes any assets it has under US jurisdiction. Jamaat-ud-Dawa calls itself a humanitarian charity but is widely seen as a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistan-based group accused of orchestrating attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.

The designation comes as NATO troops in Afghanistan are drawing down, and regional rivals Pakistan and India compete with each other for influence with Kabul. Some fear the competition may spill into open conflict between the two nuclear-armed nations, who have fought three wars since independence. Historically, Pakistan has used militant groups like LET to mount covert attacks on Indian soil, something the current government has vowed will not happen again. Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s listing will prohibit US entities or citizens from dealing with the organization, but will probably have little practical effect on its operations or fund raising.

The United Nations said in 2008 that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was a front for LET and Pakistani authorities vowed to crack down. But Jamaat-ud-Dawa continues to operate openly in Pakistan. Its leader holds public rallies and gives interviews.

The group says it is currently carrying out charitable work in the remote border region of North Waziristan to help residents displaced by military operations. “In December 2001, the Department of State designated LET as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Since the original designation occurred, LET has repeatedly changed its name in an effort to avoid sanctions,” the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday. “More specifically, LET created Jama’at-ud-Dawa as a front organization, claiming that the group was an ‘organization for the preaching of Islam, politics, and social work’.” The US Treasury Department separately announced that it was designating two LET leaders, Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry and Muhammad Hussein Gill, as “specially designated global terrorists”, imposing economic sanctions on them.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Pakistani Islamist organisation that was labelled a terror group and slapped with economic sanctions by the United States denied having any links to militancy on Thursday and vowed to hold protests. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is chief of Jamat-ud-Dawa (Organisation for Preaching), insisted his group was a charity and not a front for the Lashkar-e- Taiba (LeT) militant outfit which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. “Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has no link whatsoever with Lashkar-e- Taiba, which is a resistance wing in Kashmir,” he told a press conference in the eastern city of Lahore.

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