An anti-terrorism court in Lahore, Pakistan, sentenced Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi to 15 years in prison on Friday (January 8) in a terror financing case.
“The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore convicted Lakhvi for commission of offences of terrorism financing, in a case registered by the CTD, for 15 years under a different section of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997,” a court official said.
Judge Ejaz Ahmad Buttar sentenced Lakhvi to five years of rigorous imprisonment, each on three counts, with a fine of Pakistani Rupee (PKR) 1,00,000 on each count. “In default of payment of fine, he will have to undergo an imprisonment of six months each on three counts. He has been sent to prison to serve the sentences,” the official said. Lakhvi pleaded before the court that he was falsely implicated in this case.
United Nations-proscribed terrorist Lakhvi (61) was on bail since 2015 in the Mumbai terror case. He was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab province on Saturday (January 2).
The United States on Friday welcomed the news of Lakhvi’s arrest and asked Pakistan to hold him accountable for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, in which more than 165 people, including six Americans, were killed. Ten Pakistani terrorists had gained entry into Mumbai and attacked several locations in November 2008.
The US State Department said, “We welcome Pakistan’s arrest of terrorist leader Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi as an important step in holding him responsible for his role in supporting terrorism and its financing.
“We will follow his prosecution & sentencing closely & urge that he be held accountable for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks,” the US State Department posted on Twitter.
There has been growing international pressure on Pakistan for not doing enough to curb terrorism emanating from its soil.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global terror money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, has been exerting pressure on Pakistan to take measures against terrorists roaming freely in the country.
In October last year, FATF put Pakistan on its “grey list” as it had failed to come up with an action plan to fight terror financing and has now given it time till February to make a plan.
The UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee had earlier allowed for a monthly payment of PKR 1.5 lakh for Lakhvi to meet his personal expenses.
On Thursday (January 7), an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan had also issued an arrest warrant for banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar on terror financing charges.
Lashkar-e-Taiba, headed by Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attack.
(With inputs from PTI)