The U.S. on Tuesday blacklisted three Pakistani nationals for their suspected financial, technical and logistical links to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a U.S.- and U.N.-designated terror organization operating in Pakistan.
Abdul Rehman al-Dakhil, a senior commander of LeT, was added to the U.S. State Department's Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) list for providing operational assistance to terrorists or acts of terrorism.
The State Department said in a statement that Dakhil "is a longtime member of the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and SDGT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) (LeT) and was an operational leader for LeT's attacks in India between 1997 and 2001."
"In 2004, Dakhil was captured in Iraq by U.K. forces, then held in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan until his transfer to Pakistan in 2014. After his release from Pakistani custody, Dakhil returned to work for LeT," the statement added.
U.S. Treasury directive
The U.S. Treasury in a statement issued on its website Tuesday also accused Hameed ul Hassan and Abdul Jabbar of being the group's "financial facilitators" and imposed sanctions on them "to disrupt ... fundraising and support networks" for Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba "financial facilitators are responsible for collecting, transporting and distributing funds to support this terrorist group and provide salaries to extremists," Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement.
"Treasury's designations not only aim to expose and shut down Lashkar-e Tayyiba's financial network, but also to curtail its ability to raise funds to carry out violent terrorist attacks," Mandelker added, using an alternate spelling for the group.
The sanctions announced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control prohibit U.S. companies and U.S. nationals from conducting any business with the cited individuals. The designation also blocks the financial accounts and assets of the three Pakistani militants.
The Treasury and State Departments' directives also named the three individuals as high-profile targets for law enforcement authorities worldwide.
All three Pakistani men are said to have served in key positions for LeT, which is considered to be responsible for the deadly Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 in which more than 160 people were killed, including six Americans.
Dakhil reportedly worked as a senior commander for LeT.
"In 2016, Dakhil was the LeT divisional commander for the Jammu region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As of early 2018, Dakhil remained a senior commander in LeT," the U.S. State Department statement said.
Hassan is believed to be a key financial facilitator for LeT who gathered funds on behalf of the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), a front charity organization for LeT.
According to the U.S. Treasury, Hassan collected funds through FIF's platform and transferred the money to Syria. Hassan is also accused of managing party funds within and outside Pakistan.
Jabbar, another LeT operative, is said to have worked as a financial operative since 2000. Jabbar's duties included, but were not limited to, managing and distributing salaries among LeT staff and collecting funds on behalf of FIF.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury added Rahman Zeb Faqir Muhammad to its terror watch list for providing financial, technical and logistical support to LeT, as well.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was founded by Hafiz Saeed in 1987 with the goal of liberating Indian-administered Kashmir and subsequently merging it with Pakistan. The group's main focus had remained on Kashmir, but it has also expanded its operations to neighboring Afghanistan in recent years.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was designated a terror organization by the U.S. Department of State in December 2001.
In April of this year, the State Department also imposed sanctions on Pakistani political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML), and designated the party and its leadership as terrorists. MML was created last year and is believed to be the political front for Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), another front organization of LeT.
Milli Muslim League, although not being recognized as a national political party, still managed to field its candidates throughout Pakistan under the platform of another registered Islamist party in the general elections held last week.
Pakistan has come under criticism from both the United States and India for turning a blind eye to LeT's terror activities in the region.
Islamabad denies the charges and maintains it has choked terror networks across the country indiscriminately.