Explained | Who is Abdul Rehman Makki and why has the UN blacklisted him?

Brother-in-law of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, Abdul Rehman Makki held various leadership roles within LeT and JuD.

Updated - January 26, 2023 01:38 pm IST

Published - January 18, 2023 02:53 pm IST

The U.N. Security Council committee added Abdul Rehman Makki, 68, to a list of designated terrorists on January 16, 2023

The U.N. Security Council committee added Abdul Rehman Makki, 68, to a list of designated terrorists on January 16, 2023

The story so far: The deputy head of terror organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, Abdul Rehman Makki, was blacklisted as a global terrorist by the United Nations on Monday after China withdrew its hold on a joint bid by India and the U.S. for the listing of Pakistan-based terrorists. The 68-year-old, who is the brother-in-law of LeT chief and Mumbai 26/11 attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, was added to the sanctions list of the UN Security Council’s ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee — more commonly known as the UNSC 1267 Committee — for his involvement in “raising funds, recruiting and radicalising youth to violence and planning attacks in India”. As a result of this designation, Abdul Rehman Makki will be subjected to a travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo.

Who is Abdul Rehman Makki? 

Known by multiple names — Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Hafaz Abdul Rahman Maki, Abdulrahman Makki, Hafiz Abdul Rehman — Makki was born in Bahawalpur of Pakistan’s Punjab Province in 1954. He is known for his long and close association with LeT co-founder Hafiz Saeed. 

He assumed multiple leadership roles within Pakistan-based terrorist outfits LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) over the years. Makki served as the head of the political affairs wing and played an instrumental role in raising funds for LeT’s operations. He was a member of the Shura, or governing body of the LeT, and the head of the outfit’s foreign relations department. He also served as a member of the central (Markazi) and proselytising (Daawati) teams of the JuD and headed its “charity” arm, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).

As LeT emerged as a major threat in India, spreading its tentacles beyond Kashmir, law enforcement agencies blamed Makki for targeting the country. He was designated as a wanted terrorist due to his “leadership positions” when the LeT carried out the Red Fort attack in 2000 and the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. 

In 2010, the US Department of the Treasury designated Makki as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”, or SDGT, a sanction limiting Makki’s ability to access American resources. 

Following international pressure, Pakistani police arrested Makki on terror financing charges in 2019. He was sentenced to nine years in prison by a court in April 2021 along with other senior LeT and JuD leaders. However, a few months later, Makki was acquitted and his sentence was suspended by the Lahore High Court due to “lack of evidence”.

The U.S. has since sought information on Makki’s whereabouts and even announced a reward of up to $2 million for information to help convict him in its “Rewards for Justice Program”. “The United States continues to seek information on Makki because the Pakistani judicial system has released convicted LeT leaders and operatives in the past,” readsthe website of the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice.

Last year in June, India and the US jointly proposed to list Makki as a terrorist under the UN Security Council’s Al-Qaeda (Dae’sh) and ISIL Sanctions Committee. China, however, thwarted the joint proposal at the last moment by placing a “technical hold” on the process. At that time, India slammed Beijing for blocking the proposal, saying evidence against Makki was “overwhelming”.

On Monday, January 16, the UNSC committee finally added Abdul Rehman Makki to its sanctions list after China lifted the hold.  

What is the 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of UNSC?

The 1267 Sanctions Committee is one of the several UN Security Council sanctions panels that impose restrictions on those linked to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. It implements international sanctions against terrorists considered a global threat. 

The committee was established in 1999 as the Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee under resolution 1267. The resolution imposed a limited air embargo and assets freeze on the Taliban and decided to prepare regularly updated list of Taliban and Al-Qaeda members sheltering there, mainly Osama Bin Laden. 

A separate committee was later set up for the Taliban. The panel was renamed as the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee to focus on Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is known as Da’esh in Arabic.

The UNSC adopted another resolution in 2021 reaffirming assets freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes against individuals, groups, and entities subject to sanctions in the consolidated list.

The 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee comprises 15 members of the Security Council. The current Chair is Norway’s Trine Heimerback, while the two Vice-Chairs are with Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

What does it mean to be a UNSC-designated terrorist?

In a statement, the committee said that Makki, along with other operatives of the LeT and JuD, was involved in raising funds, recruiting and radicalising youth to violence, and planning attacks in India. 

The UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee, in a summary of reasons responsible for the listing, cited Makki’s association with terror organisations for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” , “recruiting for”, “otherwise supporting acts or activities of”, and “either owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by, or otherwise supporting” LeT.

The sanctions committee said while Makki held leadership positions within LeT and JUD, the LeT was involved in prominent attacks. The list included seven such attacks — the Red Fort attack by six LeT terrorists (2000), a CRPF camp attack in Rampur (2008), a series of attacks in Mumbai (2008), a CRPF camp attack in Srinagar (2018), Baramulla attack killing three civilians (2018), killing of Kashmir-based journalist Shujaat Bukhari (2018) and the Bandipora attack (2018) in which four Army soldiers were killed as they foiled a major infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Gurez sector of J&K. 

What does this sanction mean?

A person on this list cannot access funds, buy weapons or travel to other territories. Pakistan was on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force for almost four years for its failure to effectively prosecute and convict terrorists on the UNSC list, as it is obligated to do. While on the list, Pakistan was required to offer additional guarantees while borrowing from international donors such as the International Monetary Fund.

The international watchdog, however, removed Pakistan’s name from the list of countries under “increased monitoring” in October last year after a consensus decision by all members, including India.

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