Pakistani listed by UN as terrorist denies links to al-Qaida

Jan 18, 2023, 7:20 PM | Updated: Jan 19, 2023, 9:31 am

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani man named by the United Nations as a global terrorist in connection to the Mumbai attacks released a video Thursday, denying any al-Qaida or Islamic State group links. He did not, however, make any mention of the 2008 terrorist attacks in India that killed 166 people.

The U.N. on Tuesday designated Abdul Rehman Makki, 68, an anti-India militant being held in Pakistan, as a terrorist, the world body’s second such designation in connection to the Mumbai attacks.

He is a senior figure in the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which is mainly active in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. He was arrested in 2019 and convicted a year later on charges of terror financing, a sentence unrelated to the 2008 terrorist attacks.

On Thursday, Makki released a video statement saying the U.N. took action against him without hearing his testimony.

He insisted he never met al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. Navy SEALs raid in 2011 in his hiding place in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Abbottabad, or bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, killed in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, last July.

Makki also said the U.N. Security Council violated his rights in blacklisting him without listening to his side of the story. He also claimed he never took part in “any terrorist activity” in his life.

The U.N. Security Council committee overseeing sanctions against al-Qaida and Islamic State extremists and their associates put Makki on the sanctions blacklist after approval by the council’s 15 members. Under the U.N. measure, his assets can be frozen and he will also face a travel ban.

After Makki’s blacklisting, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism and supports counter-terrorism efforts at the international level, including at the U.N.

However, although convicted, Makki is not in prison but under house arrest at an undisclosed location in Pakistan.

Makki is a close relative of Hafiz Saeed, a militant leader accused of orchestrating the Mumbai attacks. Saeed, 72, is serving a 31-year prison sentence and was designated a terrorist by the United States and the U.N. Security Council after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Saeed, like Makki, was never charged in Pakistan in connection with the Mumbai attacks, which further strained relations between bitter regional rivals Pakistan and India.

In the video, Makki spoke at length about Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India, have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

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Pakistani listed by UN as terrorist denies links to al-Qaida