Sunday, August 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

UK Muslims ‘funding’ Pak madarasas
Donate $ 800 million annually

London, August 10
Madarasas in Pakistan receive more than £ 800 million a year - equivalent of the country’s income tax revenue — through charitable donations mainly from wealthy Britain-based Muslim businessmen.

An investigation conducted by Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) has found damning evidence of how some prominent Muslim businessmen in Britain are using bogus charities to funnel millions of pounds to seminaries that are alleged to produce as many gunmen as they do clergy.

According to the study, a large number of the seminaries are now controlled by pro-Taliban Islamic militant organisations fighting in Kashmir. A section of radical clergy also enjoy immense personal wealth.

India had sent a CBI team here in July to offer Scotland Yard evidence of 14 businessmen in Britain who they alleged were funnelling cash to these Islamic seminaries and terrorist groups.

A senior Indian diplomat said: “We began this campaign long before September 11 but still nothing has been done. The gun is the terrorists’ first weapon, the second is dirty money.”

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw have been shown the list of India’s suspects. The Charity Commissioners are investigating at least three groups named by the Indian police

One of the suspects is expatriate Kashmiri leader Ayub Thakur, whose charity, Mercy Universal, is among those being investigated. Thakur claims he has no connection with Kashmiri militants and has documents to prove that all money he raised is sent to charitable projects.

Western governments, including Britain, are putting pressure on President Pervez Musharraf to regulate the estimated 10,000 religious schools.

However, ICG dismisses the proposed reforms of madarasas as “lacking substance, legal muscle or an intent to institutionalise long-term change” because the Musharraf government is reluctant to antagonise the clery.

The madarasas claim to teach Islamic theology but critics accuse them of producing thousands of jehadis (religious warriors) who took part in the war in Afghanistan and militancy in Chechnya and Kashmir, a report in the Times, daily, said today.

Most of the madarasas’ money comes from abroad, mainly from Muslim countries, and from wealthy expatriates living in Britain and the USA.

According to the report, those running the more extreme madrassas are reluctant to open their books because they are alleged to launder money for extremist groups, including those with links to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda.

General Musharraf wants the schools to introduce science and mathematics to the timetable but religious leaders refuse and say they will respond with huge demonstrations. The madarasas’ leaders, many of whom fought the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, say they do not need government funds because charities provide ample money.

The ICG report said 94 per cent of the charitable donations made by Pakistani individuals and business corporations went to the religious institutions. Some of the groups funded by British-based Muslims have been outlawed in Britain and Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, two outlawed Pakistani-based militant groups, reportedly collect more than £ 8 million each year from mosques throughout Britain. PTI


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |