Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the accused mastermind of the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 164 and wounded hundreds more, has been released from house arrest by the Lahore high court.
Saeed had been in custody since January when Pakistan outlawed the terrorist group he co-founded, Lashkar-e-Taiba. He denies being a terrorist, but the surviving Mumbai terrorist fingered him as the mastermind in his confession.
Saeed is also a popular cleric in Pakistan, which may be one reason the government let him go.
The United States, which labels Saeed a leader of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, said it is “deeply concerned” about his release. That group is widely thought to have been behind the Mumbai attacks that also killed six Americans.
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba “is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens. The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
According to the UN Security Council, Saeed’s JuD organization is synonymous with the terrorist group and supportive of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The State Department describes JuD’s mission as the establishment of Islamist rule in India and Pakistan and is offering as much as $10 million for any information that might lead to his arrest or conviction.
As you can imagine, India is contemptuous of Pakistani “counterterrorism” efforts and is demanding that Saeed be handed over to face justice.
Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said Saeed’s release once again confirms Pakistan’s “lack of seriousness” in bringing perpetrators of terror to justice.
“It also appears to be an attempt by the Pakistani system to mainstream proscribed terrorists. Pakistan has not changed its policy of shielding and supporting nonstate actors, and its true face is visible for all to see,” Kumar said.
He called Saeed the “prime organizer” of the Mumbai attacks and said he is “also responsible for unleashing numerous other terror attacks against Pakistan’s neighbors.”
“It is the responsibility of Pakistani government to fulfill its international obligations and take credible and effective action against terrorists like Hafiz Saeed. India, as indeed the entire international community, is outraged that a self-confessed and UN-proscribed terrorist is being allowed to walk free and continue his evil agenda.”
Pakistan said Saeed’s release was all about the law and that India is hardly in a position to be lecturing Pakistan about terrorism.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued statement rejecting “India’s self-serving insinuations” and said its “resolve, actions and successes” in fighting terrorism “is unmatched in the world.”
“The courts in Pakistan, pursuant to their constitutional duty, are determined to uphold rule of law and due process for all citizens of Pakistan. Legal processes are anchored in rule of law, not dictates of politics and posturing,” the statement said.
“Pakistan condemns and opposes all forms of terrorism by any individual or group. Pakistan also opposes and condemns acts of terrorism inside Pakistan and elsewhere by India, which claims to be a champion of democracy, and international law.”
The Pakistani political establishment that runs the civilian government may be opposed to all terrorism, but the real power in Pakistan resides with the military, especially the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), which funds, trains, and protects terrorist groups like LeT and the Afghan Taliban.
But Pakistan took its own sweet time in banning Saeed’s terrorist group. And it wasn’t until recently that the terrorist’s political arm was also banned.
The U.S. has a $10 million bounty on Saeed’s head — which probably doesn’t mean that much in Pakistan, where terrorists are heroes and their infidel victims unmourned. The Mumbai attack was particularly brutal — men, women, children gunned down mercilessly. That Pakistanis cheer his release tells us all we need to know about the nature of our “ally.”