The Karachi-based Al-Akhtar Trust (AAT) was on October 14, 2003, listed by the US Treasury Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224 for its alleged involvement in financing and supporting a network of international Islamist terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda.
Formation and Objectives
The Al-Akhtar Trust was reportedly formed in November 2000 to provide financial assistance for Islamist extremists, including the Taliban and to feed, clothe and educate the children of religious "martyrs."
Leadership and Headquarters
Mohammad Mazhar is the President of the Al-Akhtar Trust, which is headquartered in Karachiís Gulshan-e-Iqbal area.
The AAT is reportedly linked to the Al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden. It has been accused by the US of being a terrorist financier, assisting the Al Qaeda and attempting to raise money for attacks in Iraq.
It is reportedly linked to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a terrorist group which is active in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). According to the U.S. authorities, following the January 2002 house arrest of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, the outfitís cadres set up two organizations registered in Pakistan as humanitarian aid agencies: the Al-Akhtar Trust and Alkhair Trust. JeM, it is alleged, hoped to give the impression that the two new organizations were separate entities and sought to use them as a way to deliver arms and ammunition to their cadres under the guise of providing humanitarian aid to refugees and other needy groups.
The Trust is also reportedly linked to another terrorist group active in J&K, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM).
The US Treasury Department in its fact sheet has alleged that the AAT clandestinely treated Al Qaeda terrorists injured during fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan in year 2001. It is also accused of being involved in financing and supporting a network of international Islamist terrorist groups and bin Ladenís followers in Afghanistan, raising money for Islamist extremists trying to infiltrate Iraq and maintaining links with an individual believed to have been involved in the abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
The State Bank of Pakistan had frozen the bank accounts of the trust in May 2003 to which the trust has challenged in the High Court of Sindh.
The AAT, which runs medical centers in Karachi, Pakistan, and Spin Boldak in Afghanistan, has offices in Bawalnagar, Gilgit, Mirpur Khas, Islamabad and other Pakistani cities.
During a custodial interview in early 2003, according to the US Treasury Department, a senior Al Qaeda detainee related that the Al Akhtar Trust and Al-Rashid Trust were the primary relief agencies that Al Qaeda used to move supplies into Kandahar in Afghanistan. In 2002, the Al-Rashid Trust and Al Akhtar Trust decided to start a drive to collect donations from the business/industrial circles of Pakistan. Mullah Izatullah, an Al Qaeda official living in Chaman, Pakistan, was associated with both Al-Rashid Trust and Al Akhtar Trust. Al-Rashid Trust was designated by the U.S. on September 23, 2001 and by the United Nations (UN) 1267 Sanctions Committee on October 6, 2001. The U.S. Government has indicated that, as of mid-March 2002, Al Akhtar Trust was conducting all activities of the former Al-Rashid Trust.
According to the US Treasury Department, during a custodial interview in mid-April 2003, a senior Al Qaeda detainee stated that the Al-Rashid Trust and Al Akhtar Trust provided donations to Al Qaeda. While Al Qaeda was based in Kandahar, Afghanistan, these organizations provided donations in the form of blankets and clothing to Al Qaeda cadres. When Al Qaeda operatives fled from Kandahar in late 2001, these organizations provided the families of Al Qaeda operatives with financial assistance.
The Trust is accused of providing financial and logistical support as well as arranging travel for many Islamist extremists.
According to information available to the U.S. Government from March 2003, an associate of the AAT was attempting to raise funds in order to finance "obligatory jihad" in Iraq.
A financier of the Al-Akhtar Trust, identified as Al-Saud Memon, is also reported to be linked to the abduction and murder of Daniel Pearl. After the murder, Pakistani security agencies sealed Memon's home in Karachi. Memon remains one of the key figures still at large in the Daniel Pearl case.
Note: April 15: The United States Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on two "high-profile" Pakistani trust fund chiefs allegedly linked to terrorism. The Treasury identified the trust fund chiefs as Muhammed Mazhar, director of Al-Akhtar Trust, and Mufti Abdul Rahim, leader of Al-Rashid Trust, and said both Pakistani charitiesí assets under US jurisdiction were frozen. Americans have also been prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them. Mazhar was accused of supporting al Qaeda and the Taliban, while Rahim was charged with funding the Taliban. "Todayís designation of these two high-profile financiers of al Qaeda and the Taliban, who are also leaders of Al-Akhtar Trust and Al-Rashid Trust, further exposes those organisationsí continuing support for terrorism under the guise of charitable activity," said the Treasury.