(This article has been reposted in light of Delhi Court hearing the National Investigation Agency’s chargesheet which named Hafiz Saeed and 11 others in the J&K Terror Funding Case. This article was first published on 2 January 2018.)
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools…No more!”
In a strongly-worded tweet, US President Donald Trump started his new year by lashing out at Pakistan for its alleged role in harbouring terrorist organisations. Backing up the statement, the US recently announced that it has decided to suspend its $255 million military aid to Pakistan.
In light of the accusations being hurled their way by the US, Pakistan seems to have bowed to international pressure and dived into instant action in an attempt to salvage their soiled reputation.
Its first move was to take over the charities run by internationally recognised terrorist turned self-declared philanthropist Hafiz Saeed. Notorious for his involvement in some of India’s biggest terror attacks, Saeed has a $10 million bounty on his head by the US, which had condemned the Pakistan government after it let him walk free in November.
But the real question is – who is Hafiz Saeed? A globally recognised terrorist responsible for a series of horrifying attacks on innocent people, an Islamist teacher looking to spread the ideals of his religion, or a self-declared ‘philanthropist’ leading charitable organisations to ‘help’ those in need?
According to Hindustan Times, Hafiz was appointed to the Council of Islamic Ideology on the recommendation of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan between 1978 to 1988. Later, he served as an Islamic Studies teacher at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore.
The report, citing information from the United Nations, goes on to say that sometime during the late 70s or 80s, Hafiz travelled to Afghanistan to receive military training. Here, he came into contact with Abdullah Azzam, the mentor of Osama bin Laden, and by 2005, had already become an active part of the core team leading the LeT. In an interview with The Independent, Hafiz had admitted to travelling to Afghanistan and meeting with Bin Laden, but refuted the fact that he was one of the founders of the LeT, and that at the time, he had only been there in “support of its soldiers”.
However, as the Hindustan Times report states, the LeT’s multiple attacks on multiple Mumbai locals (July, 2006), the Indian Parliament (December, 2001) and involvement in attacks in New Delhi in October 2005, and in Bangalore in December 2005, all had Hafiz’s name attached to them. He was also considered to be the mastermind behind the devastating Mumbai attacks of 2008.
Pakistan had thus duly detained Hafiz on 21 December 2001 after allegations of his involvement in the Parliament attacks surfaced. He was held until 31 March 2002, arrested again on 15 May, and was placed under house arrest on 31 October of the same year, the report adds.