WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury Department, in its first such action, designated a Pakistani madrassa as an organization that helps finance terror groups.
The department said on its website the Jamia Taleem-Ul-Quran-Wal-Hadith Madrassa, also known as the Ganj madrassa, serves as a training center and facilitates funding for al-Qaida, the Taliban and the Pakistani militant group LeT or the Lashkar-e-Toiba. India has said the LeT was behind the November 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people died.
The Treasury Department said the activities of Ganj madrassa exemplify how the terrorist groups "subvert seemingly legitimate institutions, such as religious schools" to divert charitable donations meant for education to support violent acts.
"Today's action is the first designation of a madrassa that is being abused by terrorist organizations," the department said. "This action does not generally target madrassas, which often play an essential role in improving literacy and providing humanitarian and developmental aid in many areas of the world, including Pakistan."
The department said the Ganj madrassa is controlled by al-Qaida facilitator Fazeel-a-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen Al-Peshawari, also known as Shaykh Aminullah. He was designated by both the United States and United Nations in 2009 for providing material support to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The Ganj school "has trained and harbored Taliban fighters" who were later sent to Afghanistan, the department said. It said Aminullah directs donations received by the school to jihadist fighters battling coalition forces in Afghanistan and that he frequently travels to the Gulf States to obtain charity donations on the madrassa's behalf.
David Cohen, the department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the Treasury Department'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."
He said such networks provide the fighters, training, and supplies for these terrorist groups to carry out their acts of violence against coalition forces and civilians alike.
Separately, the Treasury also designated Umar Siddique Kathio Azmarai, identifying him as heading al-Qaida in Pakistan's Sindh and Balochistan provinces. The department said he "has been a significant financial facilitator for the group, moving hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of its leadership and operations."
The department's designations mean any assets of those named under U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen and Americans are prohibited from doing business with them.