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Trying to hoodwink FATF? Report says Pakistan has quietly removed names of 4000 terrorists from watchlist including Mumbai attack mastermind

The terror watchlist is maintained to help financial institutions to avoid doing business with or to process money transactions linked to terrorists or terrorist organisations.

A New York-based Artificial Intelligence startup has revealed that Pakistan has silently removed the names of almost 4,000 terrorists from its terror watchlist. The removed named include LeT leader and Mumbai attack mastermind Zakir ur Rehman Lakhvi and many others.

The Artificial Intelligence startup Castellum has revealed quoting Financial Action task Force that in October 2018 the country’s terror watchlist had 7,600 names. As the work of AI is to add new data sources, it noted that between March 9 and 27 data showed that Pakistan removed 1,069 names from the Proscribed person List and all those names appeared on the country’s denotified list. After 27 March, 800 names were also removed and eventually 3800 names have been placed in the denotified list till so far without any explanation or notification to the public.

Denotified list includes the names of those who are officially removed from the main list.

It is notable here that the terror watchlist is maintained to help financial institutions to avoid doing business with or to process money transactions linked to terrorists or terrorist organisations.

Several of the names removed are the aliases of designated terrorists listed by the US or the United Nations. The Wall Street Journal has stated that while nations are required to notify financial institutions when such names are included or excluded, Pakistan has a history of not doing so.

Pakistan and FATF

While Pakistan received a low rating from the global money laundering and terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force in this February, removing the names from the terror watchlist may be a strategy to implement the FATF recommendations.

The Global watchdog FATF had retained Pakistan in the Greylist in this February. The FATF subgroup International Cooperation Review Group had recommended retaining Pakistan in the ‘grey list’ citing that Pakistan failed to take appropriate action against terror financers.

In the 5-day plenary session, the ICRG noted that the Islamic country had addressed only 14 points out of 27 conditions to get out of the Greylist, which is considered unsatisfactory. The FATF will again look into the progress made by Pakistan in June 2020.

Earlier in October 2019, the Asia Pacific Group (APG) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had published its annual report (Mutual Evaluation report of Pakistan) which stated, “With the exception of some recent actions discussed in detail below, Pakistan has not taken sufficient measures to fully implement UNSCR 1267 obligations against all listed individuals and entities – especially those associated with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)/Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) as well as the groups’ leader Hafiz Saeed.”

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