US Sanctions Against LeT Leader, Its Financial Conduit

Lalit K Jha/Washington
US Sanctions Against LeT Leader, Its Financial Conduit

The US today slapped sanctions against a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader and a financial conduit of the Pakistan-based terrorist group that has been involved in a series of attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The US Department of Treasury targeted the leadership and financial networks of LeT by designating Muhammad Iqbal and Asma Money Exchangers as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs).

Iqbal and Asma Money Exchangers are being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support to, or financial or other services to or in support of LeT.

Asma Money Exchangers is also designated for being owned or controlled by Iqbal, the Treasury said.

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

"Money service providers and other financial institutions must be careful gatekeepers, and keep terrorist money out of the international financial system," he added.

Iqbal is a founding member of LeT-affiliated NGO Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation’s (FIF) governing board.

Since its inception LeT has been focused on carrying out major terrorist attacks inside India.

LeT claimed responsibility for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed at least 166 people.

The State Department identified FIF as an alias of the LeT in November 2010.

"Iqbal uses his business, Asma Money Exchangers (AME), to conduct financial transactions on behalf of the LeT and its affiliates," the Treasury said.

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 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 check drafts and other money payment orders on behalf of FIF.

During this time, Iqbal sent about USD25,000 to LeT operations chief and SDGT Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and assisted LeT chief financial officer and Haji Muhammad Ashraf in sending money to an LeT associate, the Treasury said.

Asma Money Exchangers (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 LT and its affiliates.

As of April 2013, AME 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.

As a result of today's action, all property and interests in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons in which Iqbal and Asma Money Exchangers have an interest are blocked, and US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them, the Treasury said.

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