Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief claims his organization is a charity and has no ties to militant Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Hafiz Saeed, the leader of an Islamist organization that was labeled a terror group and slapped with economic sanctions by the United States, denied having any links to militancy on Thursday and vowed to hold protests.
The chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah insisted his group was a charity and not a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant outfit that reportedly carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) has no link whatsoever with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is a resistance wing in Kashmir,” he told a press conference in Lahore. “It is an independent Pakistani organization taking part in the promotion of education and relief operations. It is only serving the Pakistani people,” added Saeed.
JuD is listed as an alias of LeT by the United Nations, which has also labeled Saeed an abettor of Al Qaeda and brought sanctions on him, though he has never been convicted of a crime inside Pakistan. Apart from the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people, LeT is active against Indian forces in Kashmir and was blamed for an attack on the Indian consul in Herat, Afghanistan in May.
The U.S. State Department announced the amendments to its Foreign Terrorist Organization list on Tuesday, where it also listed three further groups as fronts for LeT and brought sanctions against two more LeT operatives.
The U.S. Treasury said Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry, one of the two hit with sanctions, has been a senior leader and strategist for LeT since the early 2000s, while the second, Muhammad Hussein Gill, is an LeT founder and its chief financial officer.
Saeed, 64, produced both men in front of the media and vowed to protest the decisions against them. “The designation of two JuD members is condemnable and we will hold protest rallies against the decision on Friday. Americans don’t have any independent thought … they are stupid. They have been unleashing a negative propaganda campaign against us at the behest of India,” he added.
A foreign office spokeswoman said the U.S. sanctions would have no bearing on any Pakistani response. “An action by any state individually does not have any bearing or obligations on Pakistan,” she said.