ISLAMABAD (AP) — The United Nations has freed up “expense” money for several men designated as terrorists at the request of the Pakistani government, including one with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday the money will cover basic expenses and doesn't involve any restoration or unfreezing of bank accounts.
“These exemptions are being enforced and monitored as per law,” the statement said.
Pakistan put in the request last year in keeping with U.N. regulations, which allows for money to be released — but carefully monitored — from frozen bank accounts belonging to individuals declared terrorists by the world body.
Pakistani officials didn't reveal how many designated terrorists were on the list sent to the U.N. or how much money was released or the nature of the expenses for which the outlawed individuals required the money.
However, a diplomatic source confirmed Hafiz Saeed, the founder of militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and alleged mastermind behind the 2008 attack in Mumbai India that killed more than 160 people, was on the list. Saeed is also on India’s most wanted list.
The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media about the details of the request or the U.N. decision.
In 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba militants carried out a series of attacks that culminated in the siege of a luxury hotel.
A Pakistani anti-terrorist court convicted Saeed in February and sentenced him to 5 1/2 years in jail on convictions of financing terrorism and having links with terrorists. He has appealed his conviction and sentence.
Instead of going to jail, however, Saeed was put under house arrest at his sprawling home in the Johar neighborhood of the eastern city of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province.
Saeed's home is in a residential neighborhood protected by steel barriers that stretch across the streets leading to his home, which is guarded by uniformed police.
Saeed's Lashkar-e-Taiba has been linked to Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence service, although Pakistan has routinely denied any links.
Although Saeed's group has been linked to attacks outside the region, its activities have mostly been directed at Pakistan's enemy neighbor India and the dispute in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, a former princely state divided between Pakistan and India and claimed by both.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have twice gone to war over Kashmir. They fought a third war in 1971 over Bangladesh, or what was then East Pakistan.
The two countries have come dangerously close to a fourth war and Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan in recent months has launched a political and diplomatic initiative against New Delhi's crippling restrictions and heavy-handed crackdown on its side of Kashmir, one of India's only Muslim-dominated regions.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer reported from New York