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In crackdown against LeT, US adds its political front Milli Muslim League to terror list

The MML has been added to US list of terror groups, the State and the Treasury Departments said on Monday.

In crackdown against LeT, US adds its political front Milli Muslim League to terror list

New York: Continuing its crackdown against the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the US Administration of President Donald Trump has now targeted its political front, the Milli Muslim League (MML), and added it to its list of terror groups.

Several leaders of MML and as well as another front organisation have been added to the US' list terrorist groups, said reports. The MML leaders against whom the US took action include MML vice president Muzammil Iqbal Hashimi, Joint Secretary Muhammad Harris Dar, Information Secretary Tabish Qayyuum, Finance Secretary Muhammad Ehsan and Faisal Nadeem.

Confirming the development, the State and the Treasury Departments said on Monday that the MML has been added under LeT's designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under two different laws.

Another LeT front, Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir (TAJK) was also added to the US terror list, it said.

MML has been actively campaigning with posters of LeT co-founder and Jamat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, who is a US-designated Global Terrorist.

The Treasury Department also said that MML president Saifullah Khalid, General Secretary Fayyaz Ahmad and five others have also been put under the scanner.

"LeT continues to operate freely within Pakistan, holding public rallies, raising funds, and plotting and training for terrorist attacks," a statement from the State Department said.

"Make no mistake: whatever LeT chooses to call itself, it remains a violent terrorist group," the Department's Counter-terrorism Coordinator Nathan A Sales told reporters in Washington. 

"Today's amendments take aim at Lashkar-e-Toiba's efforts to circumvent sanctions and deceive the public about its true character, " Sales said.

Issuing a warning to LeT sympathisers, Treasury Under-Secretary Sigal Mandelker said that "those working with the Milli Muslim League, including providing financial donations, should think twice about doing so or risk exposure to US sanctions."

"Treasury is targeting the Milli Muslim League and a group of seven global terrorists who are complicit in Lashkar-e-Taiba's attempts to undermine Pakistan's political process," she added.

''LeT founder Saeed had created the MML last August as the group's political front and LeT members make up MML's leadership and the "so-called party" openly displays Saeed's likeness in its election banners and literature,'' the State Department said.

In a major blow to MML, the Election Commission of Pakistan has also rejected its application to be recognised as a political party.

''The LeT is largely blamed for the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which killed 166 people, including six Americans. The terror outfit has also been part of several operations targeting the security forces and killing civilians in India in recent years,'' the State Department said.

''In a bid to avoid US sanctions, LeT began operating under the name TAJK in January last year and carried out terrorist activities under that banner,'' the US department said.

The US Administration had earlier announced a bounty of USD 10 million on Saeed's head and pressed Pakistan for his arrest. Saeed was last year set free by a Lahore court, which refused to extend his detention.

Warning Pakistan, US President Donald Trump's Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that failure to act against Saeed "will have repercussions for bilateral relations."

"All property and interests in property of these persons subject to US jurisdiction are blocked" and US citizens are banned from having any transactions with them,'' the Treasury Department said.

(With IANS inputs)