US adds Lashkar-e-Taiba front, Milli Muslim League, to terrorist list

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By Arul Louis 

New York, April 3 : Closing Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) loopholes, the US has taken aim at its political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML), and seven leaders, as well as another front organisation adding them to its list of terrorist groups.

The State and the Treasury Departments announced on Monday that the MML, which openly campaigns with posters of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, has been added under LeT’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under two different laws.

The State Department said that another LeT front, Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir (TAJK) was also added to the lists.

The Treasury Department said that it was also targeting MML president Saifullah Khalid, General Secretary Fayyaz Ahmad and five others.

“LeT continues to operate freely within Pakistan, holding public rallies, raising funds, and plotting and training for terrorist attacks,” the State Department said.

“Make no mistake: whatever LeT chooses to call itself, it remains a violent terrorist group,” the Department’s Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan A. Sales said in Washington. 

“Today’s amendments take aim at Lashkar-e-Taiba’s efforts to circumvent sanctions and deceive the public about its true character.”

Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker warned that “those working with the Milli Muslim League, including providing financial donations, should think twice about doing so or risk exposure to US sanctions.”

“Treasury is targeting the Milli Muslim League and a group of seven global terrorists who are complicit in Lashkar-e-Taiba’s attempts to undermine Pakistan’s political process,” she added.

Saeed created the MML last August as the group’s political front and LeT members make up MML’s leadership and the “so-called party” openly displays Saeed’s likeness in its election banners and literature, the State Department said.

The Pakistan Election Commission has rejected MML’s application to be recognised as a political part.

The LeT was responsible for the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India that killed 166 people, including six Americans, and it has killed dozens of Indian security forces and civilians in recent years, the State Department said.

In a bid to avoid US sanctions, LeT began operating under the name TAJK in January last year and carried out terrorist activities under that banner, the department said.

The US has demanded the arrest of Saeed, who carries a $10 million US bounty, after he was set free by a Lahore court which refused to extend his detention.

US President Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had warned that failure to act against him “will have repercussions for bilateral relations.”

The US has demanded the arrest of Saeed, who carries a $10 million US bounty, after he was set free by a Lahore court which refused to extend his detention.

The MML leaders against whom the US took action include its vice president Muzammil Iqbal Hashimi, Joint Secretary Muhammad Harris Dar, Information Secretary Tabish Qayyuum, Finance Secretary Muhammad Ehsan and Faisal Nadeem.

The Treasury Department said that “all property and interests in property of these persons subject to US jurisdiction are blocked” and US citizens are banned from having any transactions with them.