Pak-Based LeT Backer Suspected for 26/11 on US Terror Blacklist

Muhammad Iqbal, whose name figures among the suspects behind the 26/11 Mumbai attack, has been put on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) by the United States.

The Pakistan-based Iqbal had made the payment for the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in Italy that was used by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists in Mumbai to communicate with their handlers in Pakistan.

The US State Department has also declared Asma Money Exchangers (AME), controlled by Iqbal, as a Specially Designated Global Terror outfit.

At the instance of India, Iqbal had been detained in Italy immediately after the 26/11 attacks but was released and deported to Pakistan even before an Indian team could reach there.

"Muhammad Iqbal exploited the trust placed in him as a financial intermediary to help LeT receive money through his business, Asma Money Exchangers," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S Cohen, said in a statement.

The Department of Treasury has said that Iqbal and AME are being designated for "providing financial, material or technological support to, or financial or other services to or in support of LeT, a terrorist organisation in Pakistan".

Based in Lahore, Pakistan, AME is owned by Iqbal. LeT, a banned terror group, had carried out the attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, besides a number of other blasts and terror strikes in India.

The action by the Department of Treasury will block all their property and interests in the US and also those which are in control or possession of US persons.

The citizens of the US have been prohibited from engaging in transactions with them as a result of the action from the Department of Treasury.

The statement said that money service providers and other financial institutions must be careful gatekeepers, and keep terrorist money out of the international financial system. 

According to charges levelled by the US on Iqbal, he is a founding member of the LeT-affiliated NGO Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation's (FIF) governing board.

"The State Department identified FIF as an alias of LeT in November, 2010. Iqbal uses his business, AME, to conduct financial transactions on behalf of LeT and its affiliates," the statement said.

The US has said that as of April, 2013, Iqbal informed customers that they could send money from AME to LeT front Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which the State Department had identified as an alias of LeT in April, 2006.

"As of 2010, Iqbal has also served as FIF's Finance Secretary. In this role, Iqbal shared responsibility along with six other FIF officers for approving new members of the group.

"Iqbal and these six FIF officers were also responsible for identifying banks to hold FIF funds and endorsing, signing and delivering cheque drafts and other money payment orders on behalf of FIF," the US government said.

It alleged that during this time, Iqbal sent about USD 25,000 to LeT operations chief and SDGT Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and assisted LeT chief financial officer and SDGT Haji Muhammad Ashraf in sending money to an LeT associate.

"AME is a money service provider and currency exchange business controlled by its chief executive Iqbal that provides financial services to LeT and serves as a conduit for financial donations to LeT and its affiliates," the statement said.

It said that as of April, 2013, AME has accepted donations on behalf of LeT and facilitated financial transfers between LeT donors and the group.

"Also in 2013, AME displayed in its place of business donation boxes for FIF. AME has provided financial services to LeT since late 2005," it said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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