Who is Hafiz Saeed

Extremist leader Saeed imprisoned in Pakistan

A government spokesman for Pakistan's Punjab Province said Hafiz Saaed was on his way to a court in the eastern city of Gujranwala to seek bail when he was taken into custody. The extremist leader was caught by a unit of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD). He is accused of illegally raising money for prohibited facilities. A Saeed spokesman confirmed the arrest.

Saeed is the founder of the terrorist group Lashkar-e Toiba (LeT), which in the past mainly carried out attacks in India. The US and the United Nations have classified the cleric as a terrorist. The US government has put a $ 10 million bounty on Saeed. India and the US accuse the LeT of masterminding the four-day attack in Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people. Six Americans were also killed at the time. Saeed denies involvement in the attack. The governments in Washington and New Delhi have long urged Pakistan to take action against the LeT organization, which has been banned there since 2002. Saeed had been arrested and placed under house arrest several times in the past, but was always released due to a lack of evidence.

LeT is also said to be one of several jihadist groups fighting Indian troops in the disputed Kashmir region. India and Pakistan both claim and control part of Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamist fighters in the Indian part of Kashmir. Islamabad denies this. There are allegations that LeT is supported by Pakistani intelligence agencies.

US trip of the premier

According to observers, the arrest could be linked to the upcoming trip of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington. Khan plans to meet with US President Donald Trump in the White House on Monday. The prime minister had promised to crack down on militant groups in the Muslim country. Pakistani Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi recently said that Khan's visit should transform US "coercion" policy towards Pakistan into one of "cooperation".

Pakistan is also under increasing international pressure to get the country to stop funding militant groups. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international working group against money laundering based in the French capital Paris, gave Pakistan until October to curb terrorist financing in the country. If the country, which suffers from chronic foreign exchange problems, is put on the "black list" at the next FATF review in the fall, it would make borrowing on the financial markets much more difficult.

kle / sti (dpa, ape, rtre, afpe)