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UP-born Pak national funding Al Qaeda, Taliban: US

By Lalit K Jha
April 16, 2010 02:24 IST
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The Obama Administration has slapped sanctions on two Karachi-based Pakistani nationals, one of them was born in India, for allegedly providing financial support to terrorist activities of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The two are identified as Mohammed Mazhar, the director of Al-Akhtar Trust, and and Mufti Abdul Rahim, leader of Al-Rashid Trust.

Mohammed Mazhar was designated for his fundraising activities and financial and other support for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and Mufti Abdul Rahim was designated for his fundraising activities for the Taliban, the Department of Treasury said.

Al-Akhtar Trust and Al-Rashid Trust are both Pakistani charities previously identified as Specially Designated Global Terrorists pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which freezes any assets the designated entities and individuals have under US jurisdiction and prohibits Americans from engaging in any transactions with those entities and individuals.

"Thursday's designation of these two high-profile financiers of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who are also leaders of Al-Akhtar Trust and Al-Rashid Trust, further exposes those organisations' continuing support for terrorism under the guise of charitable activity," Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said.

Born in the Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh on October 5, 1951, Mohammed Mazhar, lives at ST 1/A, Block 2, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, and carries three Pakistani passports (KZ 550207, KC550207 and G15429), the Treasury said.

Mazhar has served as Al-Akhtar Trust's chairman, president and chief executive officer, and is currently the director of the trust, a position he has held since 2004. "Mazhar is a long-standing supporter of Al-Qaeda and has collected and held large amounts of money on behalf of this terrorist organisation, holding as much as $1 million for Al-Qaeda in 2002 and 2003," the Treasury alleged.

"In his capacity as head of Al-Akhtar Trust, Mazhar has led the trust's fundraising activities and provided financial and other support to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant groups.

"In early 2007, Mazhar made the decision to change the name of Al-Akhtar Trust to Pakistan Relief Foundation, following the closure of Al-Akhtar Trust's offices in Karachi, Pakistan," it said.

According to the Treasury, in 2007, Mazhar received sizeable amounts of money from unidentified sources in the Gulf region to pass to Al-Qaeda operatives fighting in Afghanistan, and frequently provided money to families of injured Al-Qaeda members.

Mazhar has also personally given large donations to Al-Qaeda senior leader Osama bin Laden, it alleged. Mazhar has also led Al-Akhtar Trust's efforts to support the Taliban.

As of mid-2007, Mazhar was supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan through a Baluchistan, Pakistan-based madrassa that trained Taliban recruits to perform combat operations in Afghanistan.

Mazhar was also once a member of Taliban combatant groups and has fought in Afghanistan, said the Department of Treasury.

Additionally, in 2004-2005, Mazhar arranged for small groups of businessmen from South Africa and the United Kingdom to travel to Pakistan every two to three months to courier Al-Akhtar Trust donations into Pakistan, it said.

Mufti Abdul Rahim, leader of Al-Rashid Trust, a position he has held since 2002, was born in Sargodha region of Pakistan.

In official records he has registered two dates of birth 1955 and 1964, the statement said.

"Al-Rashid Trust has been raising money for the Taliban since 1999, and in his leadership capacity, Rahim handles the day-to-day management of the trust and acts as one of Al-Rashid Trust's primary fundraisers. He has also served as Al-Rashid Trust's chairman and, in 2009, filled a chief executive role on the board that runs the trust," the Treasury said.

As of late 2009, Rahim was a key supporter of Taliban operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and had coordinated Taliban facilitation activities with Al-Akhtar Trust leader Mohammed Mazhar.

"Rahim has provided regular financial support to the Taliban and received numerous senior Taliban visitors at his madrassa in Karachi, Pakistan. In mid-2005, Rahim passed an unspecified amount of money to a Peshawar-based Taliban associate, who in turn distributed it among several Taliban commanders," the Treasury said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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