Pakistani Earthquake Relief Financed, Covered UK Terror Plot
It appears that the planners of the foiled UK hijacking plot operated under the auspicies of the earthquake relief effort to both finance and shield their activities.
British and Pakistani investigators are trying to determine whether the group of Britons suspected of plotting to blow up as many as 10 commercial airliners may have received money raised for earthquake relief by a Pakistani charity that is a front for an Islamic militant group. The charity, Jamaat ud Dawa, which is active in the mosques of Britain’s largest cities, played a significant role in carrying out relief efforts after last October’s earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. It is one of the most militant of the groups battling the part of Kashmir controlled by India. In May, it was labeled a terrorist organization by the United States government.
British and Pakistani investigators are looking into the possibility that the group, whose name means the Association of the Call to Righteousness, passed the earthquake donations raised in British mosques to the plotters, according to two people familiar with the investigation. One former Pakistani official close to the intelligence officials there said Jamaat ud Dawa provided the money that was to be used to buy plane tickets for the suspects to conduct a practice run as well as the attacks themselves. The money is believed to have come directly from the group’s network in Britain and was not sent from Pakistan, the former official said. “The Pakistanis have been asked by the British to examine the links between Jamaat ud Dawa and the suspects in the airplane attack,” the former Pakistani official said.
After the earthquake, which killed some 73,000 people, Jamaat ud Dawa raised funds in British Pakistani areas in London, Birmingham and Manchester. The group also urged British people of Pakistani origin to go to the region to help in the relief efforts, and hundreds did. Several of the 23 suspects still in custody after the arrests by British police on Thursday — most of them Britons of Pakistani descent — traveled to Pakistan last year, ostensibly to help with earthquake relief efforts, said Nasir Ahmed, a leader among Britain’s Pakistanis and a member of the House of Lords.
Indeed, at the time, Jamaat ud Dawa was welcomed by people in the area for stepping in where the Pakistani government had failed. The group was praised as one of the few providing aid efficiently, while Muslims around the world complained that Pakistanis had been abandoned. “In the first few days, it was only religious organizations, the militant organizations, that were prepared to dig out people and provide relief supplies,” Mr. Ahmed said. “It is possible that young people, many people, who have gone from U.K., may have fallen into hands of organizations like Jamaat Ud Dawa.”
As both a militant group and a social welfare organization, Jamaat ud Dawa resembles its brethren in other parts of the Muslim world, like Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States government shut down many Muslim charities that it said were financing militant activities.
This is hardly surprising and is a dramatic rebuttal to those who claim we should distinguish the terrorist and humanitarian activities of groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda. Money is fungible, after all. Further, laundering of money and otherwise hiding behind legitimate enterprises has long been the modus operandi of organized crime in Western countries. To think that our enemies are less clever than the mafia is both insulting and foolish.
via Evan Kohlmann, who has much more analysis.