Ganj Madrassa – an Islamic school in northwest Pakistan suspected of doubling as a terrorist training center – has been placed under heavy U.S. sanctions, reports The Associated Press on Aug. 21 via ABC News.
The long-named school of Jamia Taleem-Ul-Quran-Wal-Hadith Madrassa, known simply as the Ganj Madrassa, is an alleged training facility and financing center for al-Qaida, says the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
In an Aug. 20 press release, the Treasury said, “The activities of the Ganj Madrassa exemplify how terrorist groups… subvert seemingly legitimate institutions, such as religious schools, to divert charitable donations meant for education to support violent acts.”
The release quotes David S. Cohen, the U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, as delivering strong words against madrassas, or schools, that front as legitimate learning institutions but furtively back terrorism.
“Today’s action strikes at the heart of the financial and logistical support network that abuses charitable donations and provides essential services for various terrorist groups including al-Qa’ida, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, and the Taliban,” Cohen said. “These networks provide the fighters, training and supplies for these terrorist groups to carry out their acts of violence against coalition forces and civilians alike.
“We will continue to work with our partners around the world to dismantle these terrorist networks, especially those that try to conceal their sinister activities behind critical community organizations like madrassas,” Cohen pledged.
The U.S. sanctions freeze any assets the school has under U.S. jurisdiction, and put the school’s administrators on notice with the U.S. as a potential terrorists.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Alam Sher, one of the school's founders, denied any links with terrorist militant groups.
“The institution is purely a religious school, and is not connected with any organization or involved in any sort of illegality or promotion of extremism,” Sher said.
Radical Islamic schools in Pakistan and other Middle East countries target boys at an early and impressionable age, brainwashing many of them with extremist ideals and training them to serve in a militant terrorist force.