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Pakistani religious schools under FBI scrutiny
By Aamir Latif

The U.S. authorities believe that money laundering was the main sources of financial aid to Madrasahs and Jihadi organizations from abroad

KARACHI: The American Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) has started probe into the financial network of Jihadi organizations, including Al-Qaeda and Madaris (religious schools) in Pakistan, intelligence sources told Islam Online Saturday. 

The FBI investigation team, flanked by U.S. foreign and finance department officials, arrived in Karachi after having various meetings with Pakistani officials in Islamabad, sources said. The FBI team is engaged in meetings with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), other foreign and local banks, currency dealers and other officials in Karachi. 

The visiting team includes Clyde A. Lijinki (FBI), George Smith (U.S. Treasury Department), Mike Galley (U.S. State Department), and a representative from the U.S. Department Insurance Corporation and one from the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.

The U.S. authorities believe that money laundering was the main sources of financial aid to Madaris and Jihadi organizations from abroad, sources said and added that the FBI suspected some Pakistani currency dealers of transferring money abroad or from abroad for Al-Qaeda and Taliban. 

The FBI is also on mission to prepare the list of money changers who allegedly are involved in money transfer to Taliban and Al-Qaeda members, sources said. The visiting U.S. officials have also proposed to the Pakistani government legislation to officially ban money laundering, sources added. Presently, no concerned law preventing money laundering is being treated as implemented in Pakistan. 

The FBI team called on the Chairman Pakistan Forex Association Malik Mohammed Bostan at a local hotel and discussed possible measures to stop what he called “illegal money transfer” to Jihadi organizations. The team also discussed the possibilities of keeping complete computer record of money transfer by the Forex Association. 

Malik Bostan told Islam Online that he had made it clear to the U.S. team that if the Pakistani government was serious in preventing money laundering, then it must have to issue money transfer licenses to the money changers. 

Currently, he said, only 50 per cent foreign revenue was transferring into Pakistan through banking channel and Forex Association, while there was no record of remaining 50 per cent revenue. “ Unless the gap between government and open market rates of U.S. dollar is bridged, no alternative system to stop money laundering would be successful”, Malik Bostan observed. 

At present, one U.S. dollar is being sold at Rs 60 in the open market, whereas the banks pay Rs 58 against one U.S. dollar. (IOL)

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