The United States on Tuesday said Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar meets the criteria to be listed as a global terrorist and failure to do so would run counter to the goal of achieving regional stability and peace. Azhar’s group had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in which 40 security personnel were killed on February 14.
“JEM [Jaish-e-Mohammad] is a United Nations-designated terrorist group,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters at his daily press briefing. “Azhar is the founder and the leader of JEM, and he meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations. JEM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability and peace.”
The comments came a day before the United Nations Security Council votes on designating Azhar a global terrorist. In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, the US, the United Kingdom and France – had moved a fresh proposal to blacklist him. The three permanent members of the UN Security Council have asked the 15-nation Security Council sanctions committee to subject Azhar to an arms embargo, global travel ban and freezing of his assets.
China, also a permanent member of the Security Council, is likely to oppose the proposal. It had previously prevented the Security Council’s Islamic State and al Qaeda sanctions committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017. On February 15, a day after the Pulwama attack, China had refused to back India’s appeal at the UN to designate Azhar a global terrorist. Beijing later said only dialogue would will lead to a responsible solution regarding Azhar.
While Palladino refused to directly comment on the “confidential” deliberations inside the UN, he assured India of support. “Regarding Masood Azhar, the United States and India work closely together on counterterrorism efforts, and that includes at the United Nations,” he said. “We’ll continue to work with the sanctions committee to ensure that the designation list is updated and accurate.”
In response to a question on China’s previous successful attempts to block Azhar as a global terrorist, Palladino said the US and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace. “A failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal,” he added.