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US seeks UN sanctions against Pakistan group head for attack

March 27, 2019

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States is seeking to put the head of a Pakistan-based militant group blamed by India for a Feb. 14 suicide attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir on the U.N. sanctions blacklist.

A draft resolution circulated to Security Council members Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press would impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar.

It would also condemn “in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing” in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir that resulted in the deaths of 40 paramilitary soldiers and the wounding of dozens of others.

The draft resolution says a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility for the attack, which raised tensions between India and Pakistan and led to an Indian retaliatory airstrike inside Pakistan.

It underlines the need “to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice.”

The Security Council added Jaish-e-Mohammed to the U.N. sanctions blacklist in October 2001 for its association with al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

The draft resolution’s annex says Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Azhar is associated with the Islamic State extremist group or al-Qaida for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating” or “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material” or supporting acts of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

According to a statement attached to the draft, Azhar founded Jaish-e-Mohammed after his release from prison in India in 1999 in exchange for 155 hostages held on an Indian Airlines flight that had been hijacked in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

It said Azhar previously headed the extremist group Harakat al Mujahadin, but most of its members joined Jaish-e-Mohammed under his leadership. It noted that a recruitment poster in 2008 from the militant group called for volunteers to join the fight against Western forces in Afghanistan.

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