The Ganj Madrassa in Pakistan faces U.S. sanctions
, the first such Islamic school to face American restrictions for allegedly training and financing al-Qaida fighters and militant groups.
Madrassas are schools managed under the principles of Islam. The Treasury Department sanctions freeze all of the school's funds in U.S. jurisdictions and generally prevents people in the United States from supporting the madrassa, The Associated Press reported
The school in Peshawar, also known as the Jamia Taleem-Ul-Quran-Wal-Hadith Madrassa, has long been accused of indoctrinating young boys and training them to become militants, according to the AP.
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The Ganj Madrassa is controlled by Sheik Aminullah who in 2009 was sanctioned by Washington and the United Nations for providing material support to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
"The Ganj Madrassa serves as a terrorist training center where students, under the guise of religious studies, have been radicalized to conduct terrorist and insurgent activities," treasury department officials said in a statement. "In some cases, students were trained to become bomb manufacturers and suicide bombers."
Alam Sher, who helped establish the school, denied that the Ganj had any links with 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 told the AP.
Sher conceded that Aminullah taught there but he left nine months ago.
According to the BBC News
, the treasury department accused Ganj of being a base of operations for the radical Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai, India attacks that killed 166 people.
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"This action does not generally target madrassas, which often play an essential role in improving literacy and providing humanitarian and developmental aid in many areas of the world, including Pakistan," the treasury department said in its statement.
The treasury also announced sanctions against Umar Siddique Kathio Azmarai, charging that he served as a facilitator and courier for al-Qaida since the late 1990s, including providing support for the family of Osama bin Laden, BBC News reported.
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