This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3751

Terror 'charity' front for Laskhar-e -Taiba still open in Pakistan

December 14, 2008


Blacklist terror charity still open in Pakistan

 The educational and residential complex of the Islamic organization Jamatdawa

(Rahat Dar/EPA)

The Markaz-e-Taiba complex of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organisation remains open in Muridke, Pakistan, despite being terror blacklisted by UN

Image :1 of 2 Jeremy Page, in Muridke, Pakistan

The main complex of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the Pakistani charity linked to last month's attack on Mumbai, is still open four days after the U.N. Security Council placed the group on a terrorist list, the Times has learned.

Pakistani officials say they ordered the closure of JuD's facilities on Thursday under pressure from India and the United States, which see it is a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) the militant group blamed for the Mumbai attack.

But when The Times visited the Markaz-e-Taiba complex in the town of Muridke, 30 miles from the eastern city of Lahore, this afternoon it was functioning as normal and there was no sign of any police presence.

Most of the 1,600 students at the complex were away for last week's Eid holidays, but a dozen or so staff members and about 40 others were moving freely around the buildings, none of which was sealed.

"We have not had any official communication about closing," Mohammed Abbas (also known as Abu Ahsan), the 34-year-old administrator of the complex, told The Times.

"A lot of parents have been calling, afraid that it will be closed or there could be some violence, but we are telling them to send their children back."

He said that about 80 armed police had visited the complex on Wednesday night, but they left after half an hour when the guards told them that the students were away for the holidays.

"If I had been there, I'm sure they would have taken me," said Mr Abbas, who was in Lahore when the police visited. He said he spoke to the local police chief at the time.

The half-hearted police raid is certain to feed Indian - and Western - scepticism about the Pakistani government's crackdown on JuD, which is led by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the founder of LeT.

Pakistani police placed him under house arrest on Thursday after he and four colleagues were added to the UN terrorist list. His house was surrounded by police, who barred entry when The Times visited.

They have shut down JuD's offices in Lahore, which The Times also verified, and in several other cities, and conducted a high profile raid on one of its complexes in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

However, Pakistani authorities fear they could spark a public backlash by closing down JuD's network of educational and healthcare facilities, which support tens of thousands of people around Pakistan.

JuD and its allies are already stoking public resentment about the UN decision to add it to the terrorist list before India has presented Pakistan with evidence of its role in the Mumbai attacks.

"The whole international community is acting very hurriedly," said Abdullah Muntazir, a JuD spokesman, who said he had not been arrested, but dozens of other JuD leaders had been.

"Justice hurried is justice denied," he told The Times.

Mr Saeed founded JuD in 1986, with Saudi money, as a charity designed to spread the ultra-conservative Wahabi school of Islam by providing poor Pakistanis with education, healthcare and disaster relief.

He also founded LeT in 1989 with the explicit goal of fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, and forged close ties with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

When Let was banned in 2002, after its militants attacked the Indian parliament the year before, it continued to function under the banner of JuD, according to Indian and Western officials.

But JuD also continued with its social work, establishing a network of 153 healthcare centres, eight hospitals, 160 schools and 50 madressahs. It now claims to treat 6,000 patients a day, to teach more than 35,000 students, and to run one of Pakistan's biggest ambulance services.

Markaz-e-Taiba is its showcase centre, featuring a boys' school, a girls' school, an Islamic University, a large mosque, a farm and a well-equipped hospital with three full-time doctors. It even has a swimming pool and 20 well groomed horses for student's physical education.

Mr Abbas said it was inspired by a tour of Lahore's Aitchison College, Pakistan's most elite private school whose alumni include Imran Khan, the former Pakistan cricket captain.

"If Aitchison College was collaborating with us at that time, then how come we now face this problem now?" he said.

JuD now denies any link to LeT and any involvement in the Mumbai attacks, and has pledged to fight the decision to close it down through Pakistani and international courts.

Mr Abbas, however, warned the government that closing Markaz-e-Taiba could provoke a backlash from locals, many of whom donate money, attend the mosque and send their children there for education.

"You can't record a single incident where we have blocked roads or burned tyres, but if this complex is closed, parents of our students may well come on the roads and do such things," he said.

"We don't know what will happen when the students return on Monday."

Pakistani officials are especially concerned about a backlash in the province of Punjab, where Markaz-e-Taiba is situated, as the densely populated region has been relatively stable until now, analysts say.

Local officials contacted by The Times declined to comment on why the complex, next to the Grand Trunk road between Lahore and Islamabad, had not been closed. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5340567.ece

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Blacklist terror charity still open in Pakistan
From The Times (London) December 15, 2008 Jeremy Page in Muridke http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5340567.ece
The main complex of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the Pakistani charity linked to last month's attack on Mumbai, is still open four days after the UN Security Council placed the group on a terrorist list, The Times has learnt.

Pakistan claims that it ordered the closure of JuD's facilities on Thursday under pressure from India and the United States, which consider the group a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) the militant group blamed for the Mumbai attack.

But when The Times visited the complex in Muridke, 30 miles from the eastern city of Lahore, over the weekend it was functioning normally with no sign of any police presence.

Most of the 1,600 students at the complex were away for last week's Eid holidays, but a dozen or so staff and about 40 others were moving freely around the buildings, none of which was sealed. Mohammed Abbas, 34, also known as Abu Ahsan, the administrator of the complex, said: "We've not had any official communication about closing. A lot of parents have been calling, afraid that it will be closed or there could be some violence, but we are telling them to send their children back."

He said that about 80 armed police had visited the complex on Wednesday night but had left after 30 minutes when the guards told them that the students were away for the holidays. The half-hearted raid is certain to feed scepticism about Pakistan's supposed crackdown on the movement, which is led by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the founder of LeT

. Police placed him under house arrest on Thursday after he was added to the UN terrorist list. They have shut down JuD's offices in Lahore and other cities and raided one of its complexes in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. However, Pakistani authorities fear that they could spark a public backlash by closing down JuD's 153 healthcare centres, eight hospitals, 160 schools and 50 madrassas.

The group, founded in 1986 to spread the Wahhabi school of Islam, claims to treat 6,000 patients a day, to teach more than 35,000 students and to provide disaster relief for thousands of others. Its showcase centre, Markaz-e-Taiba, has a boys' school, a girls' school, an Islamic university, a mosque, a hospital, a swimming pool and 20 horses. JuD denies any link to LeT and any involvement in the Mumbai attacks, and has pledged to fight to stay open through Pakistani and international courts.

Mr Abbas also warned the Government that closing Markaz-e-Taiba could anger locals, many of whom donate money, attend the mosque and send their children there for education.

He said: "You can't record a single incident where we've blocked roads or burnt tyres, but if this complex is closed, parents of our students may well come on the roads and do such things

." The complex was still open when The Times checked again last night. Government officials declined to comment officially but said privately that they did not plan to close the complex as they had no evidence that it was a security threat. They were, however, considering taking it over to comply with the UN while continuing its social work.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3751