LAHORE - The Federal government has redirected the top hierarchy in all the provinces to deeply and constantly check the sources of funding of various religious organisations and banned outfits because bringing terrorist financing to an end is imperative to success in the fight against terrorism.
The intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies have also noted in their observations that several criminal gangs have started using the identities of terrorist organisations to extort huge money from the business community.
A senior official in the Interior Ministry confided to The Nation on Thursday that the law-enforcing agencies had seriously noticed in the recent past that a number of criminals gangs were adopting the terrorists strategy of fund-raising since it proved very profitable in some cases.
Militants are always attempting to find new sources of money since funds are required not only to support specific terrorist operations but also for training and maintaining the terrorist outfits, the official added.
Enormous financial resources are needed to promote militant ideology, pay operatives and their families, bear travel expenses, recruit and train new members, forge documents, acquire weapons and launch attacks.
The terrorists sources of funding include donations and charities, drug-trafficking, arms smuggling, thefts, bank-robbery, kidnapping for ransom, and looting the business community. “In a few cases, we observed that the hardened criminals abducted some important persons and later they sold them to the terrorists for higher ransom deal,” official sources said. “Of course, the security agencies are constantly monitoring Taliban activities in the big cities. But banned outfits should never be allowed to collect funds in the name of religion,” an intelligence official said.
He also insisted that the provincial governments must create awareness among the public to curb the militants fraudulent fund-raising campaigns especially on the religious occasions.
The provincial authorities are also directed to regular monitor the activities of various religious and militant outfits, which are banned from collecting animal hides and donations ahead of Eid-ul-Azha. The provincial governments are also asked to take strict legal action against the outfits, which are operating covertly with new names after they were banned in the past.
Last year, the Interior Ministry had banned at least 40 religious organisations from collecting animal hides and donations ahead of Eid-ul-Azha. The Ministry had also imposed a nationwide prohibition on Zakat and Fitrana collection by the banned outfits during the holy month of Ramazan.
“These restrictions (on banned outfits) are really making an impact. For an instance, the numbers of camps and banners appealing for animal hides and donations this year is significantly lower if compared to previous years,” Masood Aziz, a Lahore-based security expert said.
Real faces of terrorists should be uncovered to deny them monetary support besides educating the people about terrorists illegal fund-raising system. Though the government and security agencies have taken some key steps to curb flow of funds to terrorists but more needs to be done. “The efforts, however, need support of the masses and philanthropists in order to end terrorist financing besides making the public donations accessible only to credible outfits,” he added.
He further stated that exploitation of Muslims by terrorists in the name of Islam has surfaced as the most prominent source of fund-raising since they are using charities and Zakat donation. The government’s strict policies have virtually crippled militants fund-raising in the urban areas, he said, adding, but there is a dire need to educate masses and philanthropists to discourage the practice in the remote and far-flung areas as well.
A senior lawyer of Lahore High Court says that Shariah Laws forbid terror financing by affirming that financier is more dangerous than terrorist because he guarantees success of terrorist attacks. “Without effective check on terrorist financing, the success in fight against terror may fall short. The terror financers should be punished equally. They should also be prosecuted in the anti-terror courts,” said Advocate Azhar Sidduqe.
Terrorism poses serious existential threat to Pakistan and ,therefore, merits to be eliminated through any means. There is a need for all parties to support the government in their plans to deal with the terrorism since government and the Armed Forces are on the same page as regards to employment of counterterrorism methodology.
The analysts state that the government’s efforts to keep militants away from collecting donations on the important religious occasions have been successful. But the challenge is that the donors often do not know enough about the fund-raising groups.
Still some banned outfits posing as charities and madrassas (religious seminaries) are involved in collecting donations from commercial centres and in door-to-door campaigns.
That must be stopped to smash the terror networks operating in the insurgency-infested areas of the country.