Leader of the terror-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Saeed was reportedly arrested by Pakistani authorities in Punjab state.
Saeed is the alleged mastermind of a four-day militant attack which killed over 160 people in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.
While Saeed has denied any involvement in terrorism and has claimed his network (which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services) has no ties to militant groups, Lahkar-e-Taiba’s support for regional terrorist groups (including the likes of al-Qaeda) is well-documented. Indeed, the official charges laid against Saeed were those involving terror financing.
The action taken against Saeed, along with several other of his henchmen, is the product of mounting international pressure. Pakistan has long been on the so-called grey list of the Financial Action Task Force, a money-laundering and terror finance watchdog. The U.S. Treasury Department has had the group under sanctions for “fundraising” and “financially facilitating” terror groups for a number of years.
Pakistan as of late has shown substantial signs of cracking down on the rampant militancy in its territory. The lingering problem has drawn intense criticism from allies, especially the United States which cut hundreds of millions in military funding to Islamabad in response to the government’s inaction. Lashkar-e-Taiba is an excellent case in point. Saeed has been arrested and charged with crimes numerous times in the past, only to be subsequently let off. But recently, some indications are emerging that Pakistan might be getting a bit more serious in dealing with its Islamic radicals problem. In the past several months, the government took the drastic step of bringing thousands of Islamic schools under government control due to concerns the institutions were radicalizing students. These and other efforts have been spurred by Pakistan’s relatively new (and very Western) Prime Minister Imran Khan. Hopefully this time around, the crackdown on Lashkar and its money-funneling apparatus will be a permanent one.