Updated: June 25, 2022 1:00:59 pm
Sajid Mir, the chief planner of the November 26, 2008 (26/11) terrorist attacks in Mumbai who was once presumed dead, has been reportedly taken into custody in Pakistan as per a report by Nikkei Asia. Indian intelligence agencies, who have held Mir to be more dangerous than Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed, have been aware of the arrest for a while now, sources said.
The FBI has designated Mir as a ‘most wanted’ terrorist. Its charges against him include conspiracy to injure foreign government property, providing material support to terrorists, killing a citizen outside the US, aiding and abetting, and bombing places of public use.
Among the 166 people killed in the Mumbai attacks, six were Americans. The FBI has put a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Mir. Indian intelligence agencies believe him to be “the most dangerous man in Pakistan”.
Shadowy Lashkar terrorist
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Mir helped direct preparations and reconnaissance for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the Pakistani terrorist group that carried out the attacks with the help and support of the ISI. He was one of the Pakistan-based controllers of the terrorists who were in Mumbai.
Not many concrete details are known about Mir. US authorities believed Mir was in Pakistan till late last year. He is in his 40s and joined the LeT in the early 1990s. The FBI believes he conspired to commit a terrorist attack against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and its employees between 2008 and 2009.
He recruited Dawood Gilani alias David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American and an FBI/Drug Enforcement Authority informer, and planned the Mumbai attacks with the help of Pakistani military officers who were named in FIRs and court documents.
Mir sent Headley to Mumbai to observe targets before the attacks, helped train terrorists, and gave them instructions over the phone as the attack unfolded, particularly the one at Nariman House where six Jewish residents were killed.
The FBI issued an arrest warrant against him on April 22, 2011.
David Headley’s handler
When he was arrested by US authorities, Headley had named Mir and a Major Iqbal, who he described as an ISI officer, as the others involved in the attacks.
Headley confessed to his involvement in the Mumbai attacks and is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence in the US. His co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana is serving a shorter, 14-year sentence.
Current status of Mir
Nikkei Asia quoted an unnamed FBI official, who said Mir had been arrested, tried and sentenced. However, details of the trial or arrest were not publically available like they have been in the past when Pakistan’s anti-terror courts have tried other terror-accused in the country.
In 2021, a report by the US State Department said that while Pakistan had taken some steps to counter terror, it still did not stop operations of terrorists like Mir.
The 2020 Country Reports on Terrorism said: “Groups targeting Afghanistan — including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organisations, and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) — continued to operate from Pakistani territory. Pakistan did not take action against other known terrorists such as JeM founder and UN-designated terrorist Masood Azhar and 2008 Mumbai attacks “project manager” Sajid Mir, both of whom are believed to remain free in Pakistan.”
Pakistan has attempted to counter terror financing in the last few years in a bid to be removed from the FATF Grey List, which monitors terror financing and money laundering by countries.
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