The U.S. Treasury Department labeled a Pakistani Islamic school known as the Ganj Madrassa as a training center and funding source for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, marking the first time the U.S. government singled out a madrassa for supporting terrorist activities.
“Today’s action strikes at the heart of the financial and logistical support network that abuses charitable donations and provides essential services for various terrorist groups including al-Qa’ida, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, and the Taliban. These networks provide the fighters, training, and supplies for these terrorist groups to carry out their acts of violence against coalition forces and civilians alike,” said David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence for Treasury, in a statement. “We will continue to work with our partners around the world to dismantle these terrorist networks, especially those that try to conceal their sinister activities behind critical community organizations like madrassas.”
The designation, which was announced Tuesday and means that the madrassa’s US assets will be frozen, was also given for Umar Siddique Kathio Azmarai, a senior al-Qaeda leader whom the US said provided material support to terrorists, including Osama bin laden. The designation also forbids anyone in the US from doing business with either the Ganj Madrassa or Azmarai.
The Ganj Madrassa, which is formally known as the Jamia Taleem-Ul-Quran-Wal-Hadith Madrassa, is run by Fazeel-A-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen Al-Peshawari, who also goes by Shaykh Aminullah, according to the Treasury Department. The Islamic school is located in Peshawar.
Aminullah was designated in 2009 by the US and the United Nations as providing material support to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
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According to Treasury, his madrassa, “serves as a terrorist training center where students, under the guise of religious studies, have been radicalized to conduct terrorist and insurgent activities. In some cases, students were trained to become bomb manufacturers and suicide bombers. Shaykh Aminullah has directed donations provided for the school to terrorist groups such as the Taliban, which use the money to fund the ongoing violence in Afghanistan.”
The US said Azmarai started working for bin Laden’s family in 2000 and looked after bin Laden family members in Karachi, Pakistan, from late 2001 to early 2002. He later became a courier for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
In announcing the designation, Treasury said the effort to freeze the madrassa’s US assets is the first such move against an Islamic school. Treasury said that in general, madrassas “often play an essential role in improving literacy and providing humanitarian and developmental aid in many areas of the world, including Pakistan.”