The Treasury Department on Thursday acted against three senior members of Pakistan-based terrorist groups that have been behind attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, including the kidnapping and beheading of a U.S. journalist.
The Treasury action forbids Americans from engaging with the militants and has frozen assets they hold under U.S. jurisdiction.
The three terrorists are: Amanullah Afridi, senior leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ); Mati ur-Rehman, LeJ’s chief operational commander; and Abdul Rauf Azhar, a senior leader in Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
“All three of today’s targets are actively involved in leading or planning operations on behalf of these dangerous terrorist organizations,” said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
LeJ has been involved in many attacks in Pakistan and was behind the abduction and slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. JeM has conducted attacks against India and Afghanistan.
The U.S. has designated both groups as foreign terrorist organizations.
Some officials in Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), “continue to maintain ties with a wide array of extremist organizations, in particular the Taliban, LeT and other extremist organizations,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in December 2009.
Mrs. Clinton was referring to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based group that was behind the attacks on Mumbai in 2008. Six Americans were among the 166 people killed in those attacks.
In another cable, Anne Patterson, who was at the time U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, wrote in a secret review of Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy in September 2009 that there was “no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance … as sufficient compensation for abandoning support for these groups, which it sees as an important part of its national security apparatus against India.”
Four groups are named in the cables: LeT, the Afghan Taliban, and the Haqqani and Hekmatyar networks.
Mrs. Patterson suggested that the only way to end Pakistani support for anti-India militant groups is to resolve the dispute over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir and reassess India’s role in Afghanistan.
She said resolving the Kashmir conflict “would dramatically improve the situation.”