Jamaat-ud-Dawa calls itself a humanitarian charity but is widely
seen as a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a
Pakistan-based group accused of orchestrating attacks in India,
including the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.
The designation comes as NATO troops in Afghanistan are drawing
down, and regional rivals Pakistan and India compete with each other
for influence with Kabul.
Some fear the competition may spill into open conflict between the
two nuclear-armed nations, who have fought three wars since
Historically, Pakistan has used militant groups like LET to mount
covert attacks on Indian soil, something the current government has
vowed will not happen again.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa's listing will prohibit U.S. entities or citizens
from dealing with the organization, but will probably have little
practical effect on its operations or fund raising.
The United Nations said in 2008 that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was a front for
LET and Pakistani authorities vowed to crack down.
But Jamaat-ud-Dawa continues to operate openly in Pakistan. Its
leader holds public rallies and gives interviews. The group says it
is currently carrying out charitable work in the remote border
region of North Waziristan to help residents displaced by military
"In December 2001, the Department of State designated LET as a
Foreign Terrorist Organization. Since the original designation
occurred, LET has repeatedly changed its name in an effort to avoid
sanctions," the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
"More specifically, LET created Jama'at-ud-Dawa as a front
organization, claiming that the group was an 'organization for the
preaching of Islam, politics, and social work'."
The U.S. Treasury Department separately announced that it was
designating two LET leaders, Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry and Muhammad
Hussein Gill, as "specially designated global terrorists", imposing
economic sanctions on them.
Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, rejected the
"We are a welfare organization working for the people of Pakistan
and we have nothing to do with the LET or terrorism," he said.
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"We have already been cleared by the Lahore High Court and Supreme
Court of Pakistan, therefore the U.S. decision does not matter for
Mujahid was referring to attempts by the Pakistani government to
prosecute several Jamaat leaders and ban the organization after the
2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistani courts rejected the moves.
In 2012, the United States offered a $10 million reward for
information leading to the arrest of Hafiz Saeed, who founded LET.
He claims he has long abandoned its leadership and now heads
Chaudhry, considered a close aide of Hafiz Saeed, has served as
LET's vice-president, a member of its central leadership council and
director of its public relations department.
Gill is one of the founders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and has served as
its chief financial officer for years.
As a result of Wednesday's action, any assets belonging to Gill and
Chaudhry and their group that come under U.S. jurisdiction are
frozen. In addition, U.S. citizens and firms are barred from any
dealings with those designated.
(Additional reporting by Mubasher Bukhari in Lahore; Editing by
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