Mumbai terror attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed was arrested on Wednesday on terror financing charges by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab province, just days ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to the US.
Saeed, who has several cases pending against him, was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to get pre-arrest bail in terror financing cases registered against him there when he was arrested, a CTD official told PTI.
“The JuD chief was going to Gujranwala from Lahore on Wednesday morning when a CTD team intercepted him near Gujranwala city (some 80 km from Lahore) and arrested him on terror financing charges,” the official said.
Soon after the arrest, Saeed was presented before an Anti-Terrorism Court in Gujranwala that granted his judicial remand. He was subsequently shifted to Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat jail where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is lodged, the official said.
Sharif is serving seven years’ imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case.
The CTD on July 3 had registered 23 FIRs against 13 top leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), including Saeed, on the charges of “terror financing” in different cities of Punjab.
On Monday, Saeed and his three aides were granted pre-arrest bail by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, which stopped police from arresting them till August 3 in a land grabbing case and setting up a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) seminary over there.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT 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.
Under pressure from the international community, Pakistani authorities have launched investigations into matters of the LeT, the JuD and its charity wing the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) regarding their holding and use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing.
Saeed’s arrest 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.
Saeed’s arrest is also being seen as a pressure on Pakistan in connection with its commitment to the Financial Act Task Force (FATF) whose next deadline is in October.