According to reports coming out of Washington D.C., the US has decided to block a move to sanction Umer Khalid Khurasani, leader of the militant group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA). Khurasani and his group are involved in masterminding major terrorist attacks in Pakistan, especially the Army Public School and the Easter Sunday attacks. Even though, through this move, the US is being accused of maintaining double standards on counter-terrorism and the War on Terror, observers believe that Washington’s move is a tit-for-tat in response to China placing a hold on sanctions against Jaish e Muhammad on a geographical technicality. Find further details in the Dawn report, published today, below:
The United States is believed to have blocked a Pakistani request with the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee for listing of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) leader Abdul Wali, commonly known as Umer Khalid Khurasani. Although Pakistan has still not been notified about the development by the sanctions committee, the Foreign Office has informally learnt that the process has been held up because of an objection by the United States, a senior diplomatic source revealed.
The US objected to Pakistani request for Khurasani’s listing because of his location that has been mentioned as Afghanistan. The US move comes amid deteriorating ties with Pakistan, which have been on a steep downslide since the announcement of the new South Asia and Afghanistan policy by the Trump administration last August.
“The Americans inject politics into the sanctions regime and practice double standards. They are not listing the leader of a terrorist entity who is targeting Pakistan. Merely because he is operating from Afghanistan,” a Pakistani official told Dawn.
“Instead of supporting Pakistani request for listing a terrorist, the US raised an objection. The US needs to act fairly to root out terrorism. Such actions by the US undermine the credibility of the UN sanctions list,” he added Pakistan had made the request almost nine months ago as Khurasani was the leader of JuA that had been listed earlier on Pakistan’s request on July 6, 2017 with its base identified as Lalpura, in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
JuA was listed for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of, otherwise supporting acts or activities of and either owned or controlled, directly or indirectly by, or otherwise supporting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.
JuA is one of the splinter groups of the banned TTP and is believed to be the most lethal terrorist group that has claimed to have carried out several major attacks including a suicide blast at Wagah; the October 2014 twin bombing in Mohmand Agency; the March 2015 attack on Youhanabad Church in Lahore; the March 2015 Easter Sunday attack on a children’s park in Lahore; the March 2016 attack with IED on a vehicle carrying a US Drug Enforcement Administration team at Sangar in Mohmand Agency; the March 2016 bombing attack on Shabqadar (Charsadda) District Court; the bomb attack in Warsak Colony, Peshawar; and a February 2017 attack in Lahore.
The group is suspected to have carried out over 150 attacks against diverse targets since its creation in 2014. Khurasani is the mastermind of the Army Public School carnage and the Easter Sunday attack. JuA in a statement sent to journalists welcomed the US move to block Khurasani’s listing.