Washington: The US has designated Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba's two top leaders as "global terrorists" and slapped sanctions on the terror group's student wing, tightening the noose around the outfit that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attack.
The US Treasury Department designated Muhammad Sarwar and Shahid Mahmood as global terrorists. Both the LeT leaders are based in Pakistan.
Al-Muhammadia Students, the student wing of the LeT, works with senior leaders of the organisation to recruit people and organise activities for the youth, was designated a terror organistion by the US State Department.
"To that effect, Al-Muhammadia Students (AMS) is the student wing of LeT," the State Department said.
LeT was designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States in December 2001. Since the original designation occurred, LeT has repeatedly changed its name and created front organisations in an effort to avoid sanctions, said the State Department.
"These two Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders are responsible for raising and moving funds to support the terrorist group’s operations," said John E Smith, Acting Director Office of Foreign Assets Control.
"Today’s action not only aims to expose their activities, but also disrupts Lashkar-e-Taiba’s financial network and ability to carry out violent terrorist attacks," he added.
Treasury said Sarwar has been a senior LeT official in Lahore for over 10 years and has held various leadership roles in the group, including his current position as LeT’s emir for Lahore, a position he has held since at least January 2015.
As the LeT emir of Lahore, Sarwar maintains relationships with LeT’s most senior leaders. Between 2012 and 2013, Sarwar worked with LeT's foreign affairs chief Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, and in early 2013, Makki asked Sarwar for money to pay for his travel within Pakistan, it added.
In his capacity as LeT Lahore emir, Sarwar has been directly involved in LeT fund raising activities and uses the formal financial system in Pakistan to raise and move funds on behalf of LeT, the Treasury said.
On the other hand, Mahmood has been a longstanding senior LeT member based in Karachi, and has been affiliated with the group since 2007.
As early as June 2015 through at least June 2016, Mahmood served as the vice chairman of Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), a fundraising arm of LeT, Treasury said in a statement. FIF was earlier designated as an alias for LeT.
Treasury said Mahmood was previously part of LeT’s overseas operations team led by Sajjid Mir, who was designated a global terrorist in 2012.
While part of LeT’s operations team, Mahmood’s areas of responsibility included Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh. Additionally, in August 2013, Mahmood was instructed to forge covert links with Islamic organisations in Bangladesh and Burma, and as of late 2011, "Mahmood claimed that LeT's primary concern should be attacking India and America," the Treasury said.