Hafiz Saeed is one of the most feared clerics in Pakistan/file photo Image Credit: AP/file

Dubai: Firebrand Pakistani cleric Hafiz Saeed has been convicted in the two terror financing cases. Hafiz Saeed is the head of the banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) group and is the chief accused in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack case.

Chief of the banned outfit Jamatud Dawa will face five and half years in jail and will have to pay a fine of Rs15000 in each case.

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) announced the verdict on Wednesday. The sentences of both cases will run concurrently. He was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act pertaining to membership, support and meetings relating to a proscribed organisation. ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhatta announced the verdict.

A senior diplomat told Gulf News that Haiz Saeed’s conviction in terror-financing case will pave the way to help Pakistan remove its name from grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF)- a Paris based body formed to tackle money laundering.

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), which registered the cases against him under the Anti-Terrorism Act in five cities of Punjab, declared that the JuD was financing terrorism from the massive funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts, including Al Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust and Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, according to Dawn news.

These non-profit organisations were banned in April last year as the CTD during investigations found that they had links with the JuD and its top leadership and them accused of financing terrorism by building huge assets/properties from the collected funds in Pakistan.

The court had reserved its verdicts in the two cases on February 6. Hafiz Saeed is nominated in multiple cases pertaining to money laundering, terror financing and land grabbing.

The terror financing cases were filed by the Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) Lahore and Gujranwala chapters.

One of the most feared clerics in Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed was arrested by CTD in July last year, while he was travelling from Lahore to Gujranwala. Before his arrest, 23 cases had been registered against JuD leaders, including Saeed and JuD Naib Emir Abdul Rehman Makki, at CTD police stations of Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Sargodha in July 2019.

The crackdown on JuD last year followed a warning by Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering. Pakistan is stil lon the grey list of FATF facing financial restrictions.

The government had announced a ban on JuD and Falah-e-Insanyat Foundation (FIF) to partially address the concerns raised by India that Pakistan supported these and six similar organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) or at least considered them low-risk entities.

Law enforcement agencies last year had intensified their crackdown on JeM, JuD, FIF and other banned outfits, and arrested more than 100 activists. Nearly 200 seminaries besides hundreds of other facilities and assets associated with them across the country were taken over by the government.