US President Donald Trump on Wednesday hailed the arrest of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed — chief of the banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) — who India and Washington accuse of being the mastermind of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks and have declared a global terrorist.
Trump, who didn’t name Saeed, said: “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!”
Saeed — who has a $10 million US bounty on his head — was taken into custody earlier in the day by counter-terrorism forces in a terror financing case. He has been sent to prison on judicial remand.
Trump’s tweet comes days before Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scheduled visit to Washington on July 22.
The tweet refers to a “10-year search” although Saeed’s whereabouts were known to the authorities in Pakistan.
Saeed was previously placed under house arrest in January 2017. He, however, was released in November the same year after a court rejected the government’s plea for a 60-day extension in his house arrest.
“The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes,” the State Department had said hours after Saeed’s release.
“The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed has been released from house arrest in Pakistan,” the department had said, adding that “LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens”.
The US Treasury Department branded the LeT chief a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in May 2008 and in December 2008, the United Nations also designated him a “terrorist individual”. Both designations blamed him for the November 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people, including six American citizens, were killed.
Since 2012, the United States has offered a $10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.