Jamat ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was arrested Wednesday by Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in connection with charges related to terror financing, according to Geo News.
The Pakistani news channel, citing sources, said the arrest was made when Saeed was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to appear before an anti-terrorism court. The Mumbai 26/11 mastermind has been moved to an undisclosed location, it added.
The CTD is likely to confirm the arrest at a press conference later today. However, a spokesman for JuD confirmed that counter-terrorism officials arrested Saeed.
Reacting to Saeed’s arrest, US President Donald Trump said in a tweet that “great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!”
“After a ten year search, the so-called “mastermind” of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan. Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
This comes in the wake of an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Lahore granting Saeed pre-arrest bail. Along with Saeed, three others were also granted the bail in a case pertaining to JuD’s alleged illegal use of land for its seminary, Dawn reported on July 14.
The CTD had registered 23 cases in July against the leadership of JuD, LeT and FIF (Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation) for gaining assets from terrorism financing through non-profit organisations. The move was termed by India as “cosmetic steps against terror groups by Pakistan”.
“Pakistan is trying to hoodwink the international community on taking action against terror groups. Let us not get fooled by cosmetic steps against terror groups by Pakistan,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.
Pakistan’s push against Saeed came after it was rapped by the terror financing watch dog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), at a plenary session in USA. FATF chair, the US, had told Pakistan it could face blacklisting at its next session in October if it did not adhere to its commitments to stop access to funds for terror groups.
Saeed’s arrest today comes just ahead of Prime Minister Khan’s maiden visit to the US on July 21 during which he will hold talks with US President Donald Trump. Trump has repeatedly asked Pakistan to abide by its UN Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds.
The Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.