Pakistan removes thousands of names from terrorist watch list: Report

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NEW YORK: Pakistan has quietly removed around 1,800 terrorists from its watch list, including that of the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, ahead of a new round of assessments by the global anti-money-laundering watchdog FATF, according to a US-based start-up that automates watchlist compliance.

The so-called proscribed persons list, which is maintained by Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority or NACTA, is meant partially to assist financial institutions avoid doing business with or processing transactions of suspected terrorists.

The list in 2018 contained about 7,600 names. it’s been reduced to under 3,800 within the past 18 months, consistent with Castellum.AI, a replacement York-based regulatory technology company.

About 1,800 of the names are removed since the start of March, consistent with data collected by Castellum. Pakistan is functioning to implement an action plan that has been mutually agreed to with the Paris-based The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a part of which involves “demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions.” it’s possible that these removals are a part of Pakistan’s action decide to implement the FATF recommendations, it said.While Pakistan received a rating of “low” effectiveness from the FATF regarding terrorist financing preventive measures and financial sanctions, the FATF did note in February that Pakistan has largely addressed 14 of 27 action items, with varying levels of progress made on the remainder of the action, it said.

The FATF will again evaluate Pakistan’s progress in June 2020. Currently placed on the FATF’s ‘grey list’, Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to an inventory of nations deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations, a measure that officials here fear could hurt its economy, which is already under severe strain. Several of the names faraway from Pakistan’s list appear to be aliases for designated terrorists listed on the US or United Nations sanctions lists, consistent with Castellum.AI.

The shortage of certain identifiers-such as dates of birth or, in some cases, a national ID number-on NACTA’s list makes it difficult to understand needless to say , the Wall Street Journal quoted sanctions experts as saying. within the case of Zaka Ur Rehman, the difference between Zaka and Zaki fits within the parameters of an accurate phonetic translation, the corporate said. Castellum.AI said it also looked for the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader’s full name, Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi, on the Pakistan Proscribed Persons list, and he wasn’t on the list. this suggests that if the removed name may be a false positive, that Pakistan has not added the Lashkar E Taiba leader to its terrorism watchlist.

According to the Wall Street Journal, no public explanation was given for the removals as they were made, but a Pakistani official said in an email interview that they’re a part of the country’s ongoing efforts to suits a commitment to strengthen its counterterrorism safeguards. the dimensions and speed of the removals is unusual, consistent with Peter Piatetsky, a former senior policy adviser for the US Treasury and co-founder of Castellum.AI. “Removing on the brink of 4,000 names without a public explanation is unprecedented and it raises significant questions on the listing process,” he said. Global standards call for countries to communicate de-listings to the financial sector immediately upon taking such action. Pakistan, which designates entities and persons with suspected links to terrorism under its Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, hasn’t historically done so, the newspaper said.

Source: timesofindia

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