NEW DELHI: Authorities in Pakistan have arrested Hafiz Saeed, head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist group, multiple news reports on Wednesday said.
According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, Pakistani authorities had registered cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan against the leadership of banned outfits like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the LeT and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF). Leaders of these groups will be prosecuted in anti-terrorism courts, the report said.
A spokesman for the chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province confirmed Saeed’s arrest, Reuters reported.
The arrests follow warnings by Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which seeks to stem the flow of money to terrorist networks. Pakistan is already on the FATF’s “grey list" and has been warned that it could be put on its “black list".
The move also comes days before Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan travels to the US for his first face-to-face meeting with President Donald Trump.
Relations between Pakistan and the US have been rocky since Trump took office in 2017, with the US leader frequently singling out Islamabad for failing to rein in extremists and being an unfaithful partner in the fight against militants.
Saeed has been arrested and set free many times in the past, including in the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. India considers Saeed as the mastermind in the case and has been demanding that he be made to face trial. There was no immediate response from the Indian foreign ministry which has been seeking “verifiable" and “irreversible" action from Pakistan on terrorist groups targeting it.
Pakistan has been on the 36-nation FATF’s grey list since last year.
Last June, Islamabad had committed to work with the FATF to strengthen its anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing regimes.
Pakistan and the FATF had then mutually agreed on a monitoring of indicators under a 10-point action plan, with specific deadlines, according to two people familiar with the development.
The plan included curbing finances of terror outfits such as the JuD, FIF , LeT, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban.