A recent report by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global authority on money laundering and terrorist financing, has exposed the fundraising tactics of a "violent extremist organisation under investigation" in India.
The organisation collected funds through well-structured networks, utilising both offline and online mechanisms, including the circulation of QR codes and account details, as reported by Indian Express.
Although the report does not explicitly name the organisation, it references the Popular Front of India (PFI) as being involved in solicitation for funds at mosques and public places.
These funds were allegedly used to procure arms, ammunition, and train the organisation's members.
The FATF is set to conduct an onsite assessment of India in November, with the assessment expected to be discussed in the plenary session in June 2024.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, India's mutual evaluation, last carried out in 2010, had been postponed to 2023.
The FATF report highlights that the accounts associated with the PFI involved both domestic and foreign transactions, making the case complex to investigate.
Funds raised through crowdfunding were utilised not only for arms and training but also invested in businesses and real estate projects, generating regular income for terrorism-related activities.
The report also mentions that eight individuals in leadership roles within the violent organisation have been arrested on terrorist financing charges, and prosecution complaints have been filed. The investigation aims to seek the confiscation of Rs 3.5 crore in assets.
The PFI, along with its associates or affiliates, was declared an "unlawful association" by the Ministry of Home Affairs in September last year.
The National Investigation Agency and the Directorate of Enforcement Directorate had conducted nationwide operations against the PFI, leading to this declaration.
While crowdfunding is mostly legitimate, the report reveals that terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Al-Qaeda, and ethnically or racially motivated terrorist (EoRMT) groups have used it for terrorist financing.
The report emphasises the need for consistent anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulation and risk assessment for crowdfunding activities worldwide.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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