Saturday, December 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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USA freezes assets of LeT

Washington, December 21
In a tightrope walking to avoid hurting his ally Pakistan, US President George W. Bush has announced a freeze on the assets of Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) describing it as a “stateless sponsor of terrorism” hoping to destroy relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

In a speech to mark 100 days of war against terrorism at the White House, he significantly said, “LeT is an extremist group based in Kashmir” but officials later explained that LeT is the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organisation Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad, which has conducted a number of operations against the Indian Army and civilian targets since 1993.

Treading carefully in the face of Indian demand for Pakistan action against LeT, which has been blamed along with Jaish-e-Mohammad for last week’s terror attack on Indian Parliament, Mr Bush said, “LeT has committed acts of terrorism inside both India and Pakistan” and sought to undermine President Pervez Musharraf.

“It is a terrorist organisation that presents a global threat and I look forward to working with New Delhi and Islamabad in a common effort to shut it down and to bring the killers to justice,” he said in the White House Rose Garden.

Mr Bush also strongly condemned the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament, saying it “was only the most recent terrorist attack on the institutions of Indian democracy.”

Since September 11, “we have witnessed a series of terrorist attacks made at the USA and our friends around the world,” Mr Bush said.

The US President said, “The legislature of the world’s largest democracy was attacked. A nation founded on the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of worship was ruthlessly attacked. The terrorists killed eight innocent people.”

Mr Bush also pointed out that many of India’s elected representatives had been kidnapped and killed by terrorists.

“Last week’s attack on Indian Parliament was only the most recent terrorist attack on the institutions of Indian democracy. There was the earlier attack on the State Legislative Assembly in Srinagar on October 1 in which many people were killed,” Mr Bush said.

He said the attacks on India’s Parliament buildings remind us that whatever grievances or causes the terrorists may cite, their real target is democracy and freedom.

“We extend our sympathies and friendship to the families of the murdered. American power will be used against all terrorists of global reach. Therefore, today I am adding another terrorist organisation to the list of those whose assets are blocked by my executive order,” he said. He also froze the assets of Pakistan-based charity UTN which he said was supporting terrorism in Afghanistan.

Explaining his action against the UTN, the Pakistani “charity”, Mr Bush said the organisation was founded by a former official of the Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission and masked in the “disguise of charity” had provided information about nuclear weapons to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network.

“So, today I am adding UTN and three of its directors to our list of terrorist-supporting financial organisations and individuals. We are issuing orders to block any of their assets within US jurisdiction and putting the world on notice that anyone who continues to do business with the UTN and its principal figures will not do business with the USA.” PTI

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Pak also freezes LeT assets

Islamabad, December 21
Pakistan said today that it had frozen assets of the Umma Tamir Nau (UTN) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) Muslim terrorist groups following US Government pressure.

The move, announced here by Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan, followed an announcement by India that it was recalling its High Commissioner from Pakistan and terminating bus and train services between the two countries from January 1. DPA

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India welcomes US decision on LeT
Islamabad must ban Jaish-e-Mohammad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
While welcoming the US decision to freeze the assets of the Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), India today again stressed on the need for Islamabad to ban the outfit along with Jaish-e-Mohammad and hand over the culprits behind the planning and executing of the attack on Parliament House on December 13.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which met here informally this morning had a long discussion on applying more pressure on Pakistan to hand over the leaders of the two outfits and also freeze their assets. India is also of the opinion that Pakistan should not overlook the activities and actions of the members of the two terrorist outfits and the changing of their names should in no manner stop it from freezing their assets.

Chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the meeting went on for almost 90 minutes before External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh emerged to brief the waiting media. The meeting was also attended by Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, chiefs of the three armed forces and other top security officials.

Mr Jaswant Singh said India welcomed the US decision to freeze the assets of LeT. “It has been long expected. I am glad that LeT has been included in the list of terrorist groups,” the minister said.

Reports here said that the CCS also reviewed in detail the prevailing security situation in the Indian subcontinent specially in the view of the troop build-up on the border by Pakistan. The meeting was briefed by the three service chiefs regarding the steps that India had taken to counter any possible move of a misadventure from Pakistan.

The CCS also reviewed the security situation and the investigations into the December 13 terrorist attack. It discussed in detail various steps being initiated to step up security around various important installations around the country.

The CCS also reportedly touched upon the US advice on sharing whatever evidence India had about the attack on Parliament House.

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