Pakistan on Thursday, January 7, acknowledged the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar on its territory and sought an arrest warrant against him. This comes when the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review is around the corner.
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) judge at Pakistan's Gujranwala issued an arrest warrant for Azhar on charges of terror financing and ordered that he be produced in court on Friday, Hindustan Times reported.
JeM was among the groups specifically named by FATF in its reports in the past two years for terror financing. India has already provided proof on JeM and Azhar's role in last year's Pulwama attack, in which 40 personnel Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) lost their lives.
The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Pakistan's Punjab province moved the court seeking an arrest warrant for Azhar on the charges of 'raising funds'. The CTD had arrested six JeM terrorists - Muhammad Afzal, Muhammad Amir, Allah Ditta, Muhammad Iftikhar, Muhammad Ajmal and Muhammad Bilal Makki after the Pulwama attack.
"The move is to duck the FATF blacklisting by showing that it is taking action against United Nations listed terrorists. The FATF is taking up Pakistan's case in meetings scheduled this month and in February. JeM was among the groups specifically named by FATF for terror financing in its reports in past two years," an official said.
In June 2018, the financial watchdog had placed Pakistan on the 'grey-list' and had asked it to implement a plan of action to stop money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019. The deadline was extended due to Coronavirus pandemic.
"The suspects were collecting funds to finance activities of JeM. The charge sheet against them has been submitted to the Anti-Terrorism Court Gujranwala and they are being interrogated," the CTD had said.
The UN had, in May 2019, designated Azhar a "global terrorist" after China removed its hold on a proposal to blacklist the Pakistan-based JeM chief.