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Hafiz Saeed | The ‘professor’ who runs terrorist networks

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The Mumbai assault mastermind has stored a low profile since his arrest final yr however stays on the helm of the fear outfits he based.

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There are numerous details about Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai 26/11 assaults, that set him aside from different terror chiefs in Pakistan. Not like the battle worn, gun-toting terrorists wished for assaults in Afghanistan and India, Mr. Saeed identifies himself as a “professor” of Islamic research, with two Grasp’s levels from Lahore College, and a two-year specialisation on the King Saud College in Riyadh, the place, he says, he was impressed by the Saudi Grand Mufti into establishing the now-banned Markaz Dawat wal Irshad (MDI) motion.

In accordance with scholar Arif Jamal, writer of the guide Name for Transnational Jihad, about Saeed and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Saeed drew inspiration from the identical Salafi sheikhs and teams within the Saudi Kingdom that spurred Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, however not like different pan-Islamist teams, Saeed’s organisations have by no means focused Pakistan, and stayed inside the strains drawn by its energy army institution.

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Saeed traces his origins to not the Pukhtoon areas alongside the Durand line or from Kashmir alongside the Line of Management, however to a Gujjar household from Haryana which travelled to Pakistan’s Punjab throughout Partition, on a journey the place Saeed says 36 members of his household had been killed in India.

Saeed’s household of clerics have had worldwide publicity: whereas Saeed went to Saudi Arabia, his brothers Hafiz Hamid, Hafiz Mastodon and Hafiz Hannan ran Islamic centres in and round Boston, till they had been deported again to Pakistan for visa violations by the U.S. authorities in 2007.

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Whereas most of Saeed’s “colleagues” on the earth of transnational jihad are both lifeless, lacking or on the run, Saeed has managed to evade UNSC designations, American bounties and Indian convictions for greater than a decade, addressing public rallies, giving interviews to worldwide media, and threatening assaults.

He has been arrested, charged and convicted after which launched by Pakistani courts on varied terror-related expenses, however might at all times proceed his work on the helm of the LeT, and its many offshoots, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Falah-i-Insaniat Basis (FIF), Tehreek-e-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir (TAJK), and a political occasion, the Milli Muslim League, all of which have been banned internationally.

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This month, Saeed, who’s at the moment in jail, was handed two sentences of 10 years every for his function in terror financing, however given his previous potential to have court docket orders overturned, many stay sceptical that he will probably be dropped at justice ultimately.

Desires of destruction

“Some individuals don’t evolve. They solely trip the crest of ardour hoping to grasp their desires of destruction,” wrote Pakistani journalist Aamir Mir about Saeed, in his 2009 guide Talibanization of Pakistan: From 9/11 to 26/11. Mr. Mir was talking about the truth that regardless of being banned, and being positioned on a number of terror lists between 1999 and 2008, Saeed continued to carry public conferences, threatening the dismemberment of India. What even Mr. Mir couldn’t have identified is that 12 years after the 2008 Mumbai assaults by which 166 individuals had been killed, together with six U.S. residents, and nationals of at the least 16 different international locations, Saeed nonetheless retains a considerable amount of that immunity. He has by no means been charged in Pakistan for the 26/11 assaults, and continues to assert he’s harmless of the conspiracy to ship 10 armed and educated terrorists to wreak havoc on India’s Most Metropolis.

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The proof in opposition to Saeed for 26/11 is damning by any measure. Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman within the assault, gave a lucid description throughout his trial, of how he was motivated by Saeed’s speeches, indoctrinated by the LeT and educated for the assault at camps in Pakistan.

Figuring out Saeed’s {photograph} in court docket, Kasab spoke of how the “Amir” Hafiz Saeed had himself visited the coaching camps to present his blessings to the group for his or her assault on “Bambai”, as he referred to India’s monetary capital.

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When Kasab was hanged in 2012, Saeed led hundreds in prayer for him, regardless that the JuD/LeT had disclaimed any information of him previously. David Headley, the person convicted within the U.S. for the 26/11 conspiracy for his function in scouting areas for the terrorists to assault, additionally recognized Saeed ‘Sahib’ as his mentor since he met him at a terror camp in 2002 and the mastermind of the Mumbai carnage.

After Saudi Arabia facilitated the arrest of 26/11 conspirator and LeT commander Abu Jundal (Zabiuddin Ansari) in 2012, Jundal too spoke in court docket of his conferences with Saeed to plan the Mumbai assaults. And even Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Company (FIA) chief confirmed particulars of the LeT plot, the guilt of Saeed’s proper hand and affiliate since 1986 Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi in commanding the operation from a management room in Karachi, ostensibly underneath Saeed’s steerage.

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Saeed’s impunity from each worldwide scrutiny and Pakistani regulation is clearly no coincidence. Proper from the Nineties, when Saeed himself confessed to coaching Mujahideen for Afghanistan with the assistance of “weapons from the U.S.”, Pakistan’s army companies have supported his ventures. Relatively than cost him straight for quite a few terror assaults in India and Afghanistan, companies had held him on “preventive detention” or charged him with minor “hate speech” misdemeanours. Through the years, Saeed was capable of develop a substantial empire together with his headquarters at Muridke, Punjab, and JuD/FiF places of work across the nation, elevating tens of millions of {dollars} for his work, regardless of UN strictures.

Head Qazi

Nationwide Safety Advisory Board member Tilak Devasher, who was based mostly in Pakistan for a few years, writes in his guide, Pakistan: Courting the Abyss, that the JuD/LeT was even allowed to arrange seven “Sharia courts” in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and different cities to “dispense justice” , with Saeed because the “Head Qazi”, chief justice of the courts. Within the wake of the Monetary Motion Process Drive (FATF) greylisting in 2018, Pakistani authorities companies mentioned they’d confiscated all Saeed’s properties, however officers quoted by native companies mentioned Saeed and different JuD leaders continued to make use of the premises and provides sermons on Fridays.

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He was capable of do all this regardless of a $10 million award introduced by the U.S. for his arrest in 2012. Saeed’s response to the bounty was to mockingly ask the U.S. authorities to present it to him straight in return for a “every day replace on his location”.

After his arrest in July 2019, Saeed has stored a low profile, and extra so after an alleged assassination try on his son Talha Saeed in December final yr. With lengthy jail sentences introduced in opposition to Saeed together with all his high aides like brother-in-law Abdul Rahman Makki and JuD spokesperson Yahya Mujahid, hypothesis is rife that Pakistan’s army institution is lastly wearying off its favorite, and has determined to dump the LeT that has grown into the proverbial albatross round its neck. Or Saeed is being merely stored on maintain, and if Pakistan evades a potential “blacklisting” on the soiled cash watchdog FATF, which is because of make a ultimate choice in February 2021, the terror-Professor might as soon as once more return to his diabolical enterprise.

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