Washington: On the eve of President Barack
Obama`s maiden visit to India, the US today slapped sanctions
on Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-
Mohammad, besides targeting LeT commander Azam Cheema, a key
operational figure in the 26/11 attacks.
The Treasury Department took action against Cheema,
who helped train operatives for the 26/11 attacks and was the
"mastermind" behind the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, an
official statement said.
Washington`s action comes hours before Obama leaves on
four-day visit to India, which has been pressing the US to
lean on Pakistan to take strong and transparent action against
the terror groups operating from its territory.
Obama`s first halt will be Mumbai where he will stay
at Taj hotel, the scene of audacious attacks by LeT terrorists
in 2008. The attacks at Taj and other places in Mumbai had
left 166 people dead and over 300 injured.
The department targeted financial and support network
of the two terror groups. It also acted against Hafiz Abdul
Rahman Makki, head of LeT`s political affairs department, for
acting for or on behalf of LeT.
The US also targeted Al Rehmat Trust, an operational
front for JeM and the group`s top leader Mohammed Masood Azhar
"LeT and JeM have proven both their willingness and
ability to execute attacks against innocent civilians," said
Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
"Today`s action - including the designation of Azam
Cheema, one of LeT`s leading commanders who was involved in
the 2008 and 2006 Mumbai attacks - is an important step in
incapacitating the operational and financial networks of these
deadly organizations," he said.
Cheema is a key commander in the operations of LeT
which has been held responsible for the November 26, 2008
terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The group has been closely
associated with Osama bin Laden`s al-Qaeda network.
LeT was designated as a terrorist outfit in May 2005.
Cheema has also been described as LeT`s surveillance
or intelligence chief and has been involved in LeT`s training
activities, specifically training LeT members in bomb making
and skills needed to infiltrate India.
The terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks
received some of their training from Cheema. He is also
reported to have been involved in the July 2006 Mumbai train
bombings perpetrated by LeT.