An investigation by India Today reveals that Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has widened its annual fund collection drive seeking to build new mosques.
New Delhi,UPDATED: Dec 20, 2022 20:24 IST
Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. (File photo/ Reuters)
By Arvind Ojha, Ankit Kumar: The Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), banned in the country since 2002 and sanctioned by the United Nations, has gone on an overdrive to collect funds in Pakistan since the country exited the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) earlier this year.
An investigation by India Today reveals that the group responsible for several terror activities in India, including the hijack of Indian Airlines plane in 1999, the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament and the 2016 attack on Pathankot base, has widened its annual fund collection drive seeking to build new mosques. The target money for one mosque is 1 crore (10 million) Pakistani Rupees (PKR), per square feet estimation is 1800 PKR and a prayer carpet for each mosque is estimated to be 16000 PKR, according to the material supplied by the group over chat platforms.
The India Today team worked with a technical expert and was able to speak with a JeM operative tasked with collecting funds in Peshawar.
The operative identified himself as Imran and told India Today that the group was undertaking such activities all over Pakistan.
“We are doing it in Peshawar and all over Pakistan”, the operative said. Multimedia explaining the fund collection drive by the outfit was also provided to us that showed various visuals of mosques. An account number with Meezan Bank—one of Pakistan’s prominent Islamic banks offering a range of Shariah-compliant banking services was shared by the Peshawar-based operative for the donation.
Reacting to the story, strategic affairs expert and Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Sushant Sareen said that the developments were indicative of continuity in Pakistan’s establishment. Indicating there is very little chance of change in Pakistan’s state policy on anti-India terror elements, he added, “there might be a change in style, some minor change in strategies might be made, but in terms of the larger strategy and paradigm the establishment paradigm has not changed one bit”.
Pakistan was removed from FATF’s grey list that requires increased surveillance for terrorism financing in October this year. The FATF had noted “a lot of work by the Pakistani authorities” as it announced Pakistan’s exit following the end of a two-day meeting in Paris.
“They (Pakistan) have worked through two separate action plans and completed a combined 34 action items to address deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing systems” FATF president T Raja Kumar had told reporters at a news conference in Paris.
Pakistan has not been subject to FATF’s increased monitoring process since October and continues to be only under the purview of the Asia/Pacific Group on money laundering to further improve its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing system.
The India Today investigation establishes that weeks after the exit from the FATF grey list, sanctioned terror outfit was actively collecting funds in Pakistan. Speaking about the change in position of the west in terms of handling Pakistan and terrorism, Sareen pointed out a need for India’s own national counter-terror system.
“For tactical reasons, we might find some countries coming on our side and then there will be readjustments and realignments and those countries will probably not pay as much attention as they should, which basically means that you need to have your own national systems to counter terrorism both within the country and outside the country,” he said.
Earlier, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar highlighted Pakistan’s poor track record on terrorism while responding to the remarks made by Bilawal Bhutto, chairman of Pakistan’s ruling party who also holds the foreign office in the government.
“The question of justifying what the world regards as unacceptable should not even arise. That certainly applies to state sponsorship of cross-border terrorism. Nor can hosting Osama bin Laden and attacking a neighbouring Parliament serve as credentials to sermonize before this Council,” Jaishankar had said.