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Ahead of the FATF plenary meet, Pakistan court convicts 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, orders jail term in two terror funding cases

Hafiz Saeed's conviction came a few days before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary in Paris that will decide on Pakistan's performance on controlling terror funding in its soil.

26/11 terror attack mastermind and terror organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed has been convicted in two terror-financing cases by a Pakistan court today. The LeT chief has been slapped with a prison sentence of five and a half years and a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case. The sentences of both cases will run concurrently.

A Lahore anti-terrorism court convicted him under Pakistan’s Anti Terrorism Act Section 11-F (2) and 11-N. The court had earlier reserved its verdict in the two cases on February 6. ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhatta announced the verdict. Saeed has been locked in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.

Saeed was arrested by the Pakistan government in July last year, following immense pressure from global powers and facing the prospect of a FATF blacklist.

The United States had then welcomed Hafiz Saeed’s indictment by a Pakistani court, urging Islamabad to ensure a full prosecution and expeditious trial of the charges against him.

Interestingly, Hafiz Saeed’s conviction has come a few days before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary in Paris that will decide on Pakistan’s blacklisting or greylisting. The FATF’s plenary group is scheduled to meet in Paris between 16-21 February to formally announce what it thinks of Pakistan’s performance on tackling money laundering and terror financing.

The Counter-Terrorism Department of Pakistan had registered 23 FIRs against Hafiz Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province and arrested him on July 17 last year. He is held at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

Read: Pakistan gets UNSC to allow the release of monthly expenses for 26/11 Mumbai terror accused terrorist Hafiz Saeed

Hafiz Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. In December 2008, Saeed was put under house arrest in Pakistan under the Maintenance of Public Order Law, only to be freed nearly 10 months later on orders of the Lahore High Court. In 2019, Pakistan’s counter-terrorism department held Saeed and his Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) guilty of ‘terror financing’.

Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed was recently declared terrorists under the anti-terror UAPA Amendment Bill 2019 which was recently passed by the Indian Parliament after Amit Shah took charge as the Home Minister of the country.

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