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January 1, 2018 11:21 am

Pakistan Government Reportedly Mulling ‘Crackdown’ on Alleged Mastermind of November 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks

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Alleged Mumbai terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed is showered with flower petals outside a court in Lahore. Photo: Reuters / Mohsin Raza.

Pakistan is reportedly planning to seize charities and other financial assets controlled by the terrorist leader accused of masterminding the November 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, whose targets included Nariman House, the local Chabad center.

The Pakistani government detailed its plans to crack down on Hafiz Saeed — the leader of the Islamist Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) organization — in a secret order to various provincial and federal government departments on Dec. 19, three officials who attended one of several high-level meeting discussing the crackdown told Reuters news agency on Monday.

Marked “secret,” a Dec. 19 document from the Finance Ministry directed law enforcement and governments in Pakistan’s five provinces to submit an action plan by Dec. 28 for a “takeover” of Saeed’s two charities, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat (FIF) Foundation.

The United States has labeled JuD and FIF “terrorist fronts” for the LeT, a group Saeed founded in 1987.

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Saeed was released from house arrest last November after a court in the city of Lahore rejected the Pakistani government’s arguments that he was a threat to public safety. Dozens of cheering supporters greeted Saeed as he exited the court. Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai atrocities.

The Dec. 19 document, which refers to “Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issues,” names only Saeed’s two charities and “actions to be taken” against them.

The FATF, which is an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, has warned Pakistan it faces inclusion on a watch list for failing to crack down on financing terrorism.

Asked about a crackdown on JuD and FIF, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who co-chaired one of the meetings on the plan, responded only generally, saying he has ordered authorities “to choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan.”

Iqbal said Pakistan wasn’t taking action under US pressure. “We’re not pleasing anyone,” he said. “We’re working as a responsible nation to fulfill our obligations to our people and international community.”

Saeed has been classed as a “Globally Designated Terrorist” by the US Treasury Department since 2008, which is offering a $10 million reward for his capture. Following his release from house arrest in November, the US responded furiously, pointing out that “LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens.”

If the government follows through with the plan, it would mark the first time Pakistan has made a major move against Saeed’s network, which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services.

Monday’s revelations come on top of a major diplomatic row between India and the Palestinian Authority involving Saeed. The PA announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing its ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, after he shared a platform on with Saeed on Friday at an Islamist rally in the city of Rawalpindi.

“The move by the Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan was considered particularly insulting as it came close on the heels of India’s vote at the UN General Assembly in support of the two-state solution and criticizing the US and Israel for supporting a shift in Jerusalem’s status,” The Hindu newspaper noted.

Saeed’s recent sermons have included a call for Pakistan to use its nuclear arsenal to take control of Jerusalem.

“Pakistan’s atomic bomb is the asset of Islam which should be used to free Jerusalem,” Saeed declared at a rally in December in Lahore.

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