The Department of Treasury designated top individuals and an entity tied to Pakistan-based terror groups, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on Thursday. Treasury targeted top LeT commander Azam Cheema, who helped train operatives for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans. According to the Treasury press release, Cheema, who was described as LeT's surveillance or intelligence chief, was also behind the July 2006 serial train blasts in Mumbai that killed at least 174 people.
Treasury also took action against Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, who reportedly headed LeT's political affairs and foreign relations departments. Makki is alleged to have raised money for the LeT, giving around $248,000 to an LeT training camp and another $165,000 to a madrassa, or school, tied to the group.
Also designated were JeM leader Mohammad Masood Azhar Alvi and the Al Rehmat Trust. The trust served as an operational front for the JeM after the group was banned by the State Department in 2001. Azhar founded the JeM in 2000 soon after his release from an Indian jail in exchange for hostages held in an Indian Airlines flight hijacking in December 1999. He is reported to be the key link between Osama bin Laden and the 1993 killing of 18 U.S. soldiers in a street war in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Azhar is also suspected to have ties to Sheikh Omar Saeed, who was charged with the 2002 kidnapping and death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi, Pakistan. The Rehmat Trust has been involved in fundraising for JeM and has conducted jihadist training in mosques and madrassas under its control. The Trust has aided terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including providing financial and logistical support to foreign fighters in the countries.
The designations come on the eve of President Barack Obama's three-day visit to India next week. Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, applauded the designations: "Today's action-including the designation of Azam Cheema, one of LeT's leading commanders who was involved in the 2008 and 206 Mumbai attacks—is an important step in incapacitating the operational and financial networks of these deadly organizations."