LAHORE    -   Four close aides to Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed were arrested during a counterterrorism operation somewhere in Punjab province on Thursday, an official said.

The suspects arrested by CTD in the latest operation were identified as Prof Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam. They will be produced before a trial court on Friday.

A CTD spokesman told reporters in Lahore that the four top leaders of the proscribed organization Jamaatud Dawa or Lashkar-e-Taiba were arrested by Punjab CTD on charges of terrorism financing. He said that JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was already in jail, facing trial for commission of offences of terrorism financing.

“Now entire core leadership of the JuD/LeT will be on trial,” the spokesman said in a written statement late Thursday. The spokesman termed the arrests a ‘major achievement’ as part of the much-hyped National Action Plan.

The provincial counterterrorism department has been investigating offences of terrorism financing against the arrested suspects who allegedly had built huge assets by using funds and donations. The accused persons further used these assets to raise more funds for terrorism financing.

“Donors of several assets/properties are also under investigation for providing some of these assets to the accused and their proscribed organisation namely JuD and LeT,” the official explained.

Initial investigations revealed the accused had formed welfare trusts like Al-Anfaal Trust which acted as front entities of these organisations. Such assets and properties have already been frozen by the government.

JuD’s founder Hafiz Saeed was arrested by CTD police on July 17 in connection with terrorism financing case while he was on his way from Lahore to Gujranwala. Before Saeed’s arrest, over a dozen top leaders of Jamaatud Dawa including Hafiz Saeed and Abdul Rehman Makki had been booked in several cases for terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.