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USA bans Lashkar, Jaish terrorist groups
Vasantha Arora

Washington, November 3
The USA has banned two Pakistan-based terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir, conceding one of India’s major demands four days before the arrival of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which have been blamed for several terrorist attacks in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state, have been branded Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO) in the USA.

Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday accepted a recommendation by U.S. Attorney-General John Ashcroft to designate 22 groups, including the LeT and JeM as FTO, calling upon U.S. financial institutions to freeze their assets.

In the USA, it would now be illegal for anyone to offer them any kind of support. Six groups are already in this category.

Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh welcomed the long-awaited development.

JeM had initially taken responsibility for the car bomb explosion in front of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in Srinagar on October 1 in which 38 people were killed. But it later withdrew responsibility reportedly following pressure from Pakistan.

Prime Minister Vajpayee, who arrives here on Wednesday, had written to President George Bush, drawing his attention to the incident. India has long been demanding that LeT and JeM be banned.

An official press release here said to further the campaign against global terrorism, the Secretary of state, in consultation with the Secretary of treasury and the Attorney- General, took this step under Executive Order 13224, which President Bush signed on September 23 to facilitate U.S. efforts to stop the flow of money to terrorist groups.

Although the U.S. government had already blocked any assets in this country directly linked to these groups, the FTO designation now provides the authority to act against individuals and organizations associated with them.

Bush has made clear that the USA is engaged in a war against the scourge of terrorism. “It is an unfortunate fact that Al-Qaida is not the only terrorist organization. All 28 terrorist groups designated by the FTO maintain networks around the world, and use these networks to facilitate deliberate acts of violence against innocent persons to further their nefarious designs,” it said.

“Although the current focus of the campaign is the elimination of the Al-Qaida terrorist network, we will not rest until every terrorist group has been removed as a threat to the USA, our citizens, our interests, and our friends and allies,” the press release said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said this round of Executive Order designations was by no means the last.

“The list of affected organisations and individuals is a living document. We will continue to expand it as we identify and confirm additional entities that provide financial and other support to terrorist organisations.” IANS
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