masood azhar

Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar (right), a militant released from an Indian jail in 1999 in exchange for Indian airliner hostages, addresses a meeting of Pakistan's religious and political parties in Islamabad Aug. 26, 2001, against the UN monitors. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — India officially declared Sept. 4 that the leaders of two Pakistan-based militant groups are terrorists under a new law.

The Home Ministry named Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, as terrorists under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act.

Azhar’s name has already been placed by the United Nations on a sanctions blacklist after his group claimed responsibility for a February suicide attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers and took India and Pakistan close to war.

The United Nations in May imposed a travel ban and freeze on Azhar’s assets as well as an arms embargo.

Saeed, an anti-India cleric, runs a charity in Pakistan known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The charity is widely believed to serve as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people.

The new law empowers the government to designate an individual as a terrorist if he is found committing, preparing for, promoting or involved in an act of terror. The designation can lead to their arrest, a freezing of assets and a ban on leaving the country.

Pakistan also has cracked down on seminaries, mosques and hospitals belonging to outlawed groups, saying the actions are part of its efforts to fight terrorism, extremism and militancy.

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