Fri, Dec 12, 2008 - Page 5 News List

UN says Islamic charity a terror front

CRACKDOWN Pakistan said it was weighing tough measures against Jamaat-ud-Dawa, but the charity said this would only harm the poor people it is helping


Pakistan was under pressure yesterday to clamp down on an Islamic charity after the UN declared the group a front for the organization blamed for the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

At the prompting of India and the US, a UN Security Council panel late on Wednesday declared Jamaat-ud-Dawa a terrorist group subject to UN sanctions, including an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

Pakistani government officials could not be reached immediately yesterday for comment on how they would respond to the decision.

However, officials have said they are already weighing tough measures against the group.

Abdullah Muntazir, a spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, said the UN decision was unjust, and denied that the group had anything to do with al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

He appealed to Islamabad not to move against the charity, saying it would only harm poor Pakistanis who benefit from the group’s extensive welfare and health care programs.

“As there is no appeal mechanism in the UN, we will take our case before the people of Pakistan,” Muntazir, without spelling out whether the group would call for protests.

Washington says the charity is a front for the banned terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), blamed by India for the terrorist attack last month that killed 171 people in its commercial capital.

A crackdown on Jamaat-ud-Dawa would underpin the promise by Pakistan to pursue the Mumbai conspirators.

But the government complains that India has not shared evidence from its investigation of the attack, underlining the mistrust hampering US efforts to avert a deeper crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said local authorities had detained Zarrar Shah, a second key suspect in the Mumbai plot.

Indian news reports citing intelligence officials identified Shah as LET’s communications chief and said he worked out ways for the group’s leaders in Pakistan to stay in touch with the 10 gunmen during the three-day siege in Mumbai.

The New York Times has reported that the attackers and their handlers used Internet phone services to make it harder for investigators to trace their calls.

Gilani also confirmed that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, another alleged plotter identified by India, was detained during a raid on Sunday in Pakistan’s portion of Kashmir. That predominantly Muslim region in the Himalayas is claimed by both nations and has been the focus of two of their three wars since 1947.

The prime minister said Pakistan was moving against militants based only on information released by Indian authorities through the media.

“That is a good message to our neighbors and the rest of the world that Pakistan is a responsible nation,” Gilani said. “We want to defuse the situation.”

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