Terror charity poised to net $5m this EidOctober 16, 2013
A hundred thousand hides sold at fifty dollars a head should yield $5 million for Jamaat ud-Dawa, a front charity for the Pakistani jihadist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan’s authorities have long known that militants profit from illegal leather sales (see here and here), but the government still lacks effective mechanisms (or perhaps genuine willingness) to curtail it.
Eid animal slaughter funds Pakistan terror groups
Hides from 6m animals sacrificed during Eid sold by front organisations for militant groups
Jon Boone in Islamabad
Tuesday 15 October 2013
Huge numbers of goats, cows and even camels will be slaughtered in Pakistani on Wednesday homes to mark the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha.
The sacrificial offering of around 6m animals will allow families to fulfil a religious duty, guarantee some much appreciated meat handouts to the poor and provide nearly half of the annual requirement of the country’s leather industry.
It will also generate an extraordinary cash windfall for some of Pakistan’s most dangerous militant groups.
Thinly disguised front organisations have been gearing up to compete against each other and legitimate charities to collect as many animal skins as possible, which can then be sold on for cash.
“For us it is second only to Ramadan for our income,” says an official from the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF).
FIF is the charitable wing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), itself the reincarnation of one of south Asia’s most dangerous militant groups, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a banned organisation dedicated to fighting jihad against India.
JuD has successfully fought off legal bans although many believe it remains deeply involved in militancy.
The US government has offered $10m (£6m) for information leading to the arrest of Hafiz Saeed, the group’s leader accused by some US officials of masterminding and overseeing the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Saeed moves around the country freely. On Monday, he held a press conference outside a mosque in an affluent district of Islamabad.
Surrounded by piles of food, toys and other goods that he said would be given to victims of last month’s earthquake in Baluchistan, he appealed for people to give their animal hides to JuD.
“Whatever funds we get from hides of animals we will use in Baluchistan to rebuild houses and help the people,” he said to a bank of almost 20 television cameras.
The organisation hopes to collect 100,000 hides from around the country this year. A cow hide can fetch up to $50.
Also available to buy are JuD livestock which the organisation provides and slaughters on behalf of individuals or groups who want to pool resources to share the cost.
Such initiatives have helped the organisation take market share from other charities, including the Edhi Foundation, a much-respected social welfare group.
“It’s hard to complete because they have more manpower from all their religious seminaries,” said Mohammad Rashid from the Edhi Foundation in Islamabad. “They send all their students out to the streets, to volunteer.”
Because JuD is not officially a banned organisation nothing will or can be done to stop it collecting hides.
There are fears that very little will be done to stop illegal groups from collecting hides either, particularly as many of them operate under false names.