LeT terrorist Hafiz Saeed and co-founder Amir Hamza are currently said to be operating from their homes in Lahore

Only one of the key terrorists of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its front, Jamat-ud Dawah (JuD), who were earlier arrested in Pakistan ahead of the crucial Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review meetings, is currently lodged in jail, according to Indian enforcement agencies.

“Arrests of several top LeT/JuD operatives were shown by Pakistan before the meetings in October 2019 and February this year. However, according to our information, now only one of them — Qari Yaqoob Sheikh — is lodged in Adyala Jail [Central Jail-Rawalpindi],” said an official.

LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and co-founder Amir Hamza are currently said to be operating from their homes in Lahore.

The agencies are of the view that Pakistani authorities are exploring various ways to conceal the ground realities and instead, come up with presentable figures before the FATF on the action taken against terror funding, before the review of its performance in June. In February, the international watchdog decided to keep it on its grey list.

Following pressure from the global community to crack down on the terrorists, Pakistan had admitted that hundreds of them were operating from its soil and that strong action was being taken against them.

“Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NCTA) maintains a list of such elements. However, according to the recent media reports, about 1,800 names have been removed from the list since March. In the past 18 months, as many as 3,800 of the 7,600 names have been struck off,” the official said.

“We suspect that instead of showing that action has been taken on multiple fronts, like cash smuggling, hawala, money laundering and seizure of assets of the violators, they are now attempting to reduce the threshold of evidence to be presented before the FATF. This, by bringing down the number of terrorists against whom they are required to act,” said the official.

Diverting Terrorists To Afghanistan

The agencies are also trying to determine if names are being taken off the NCTA list to divert terrorists to Afghanistan without detection, given the changing security scenario in view of imminent gradual withdrawal of forces by the United States.

“In an operation last month, the Afghan forces caught one terrorist said to be of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Among those killed in the encounter were 10 others from the same outfit,” the official said.

In the United Nations Security Council’s 1,267 list of designated terrorists, 105 Pakistani nationals or those based in Pakistan have been named for links with Taliban, while 40 such elements have been named for their association with Al Qaeda and ISIL.