Washington, DC – The United States on Wednesday (July 17) reacted to media reports from Pakistan about the arrest of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and called for his prosecution.
In an email statement to IAT, a State Department Spokesperson said, “We are aware that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed was arrested on terrorist finance charges in Punjab today.”
Calling on the Government of Pakistan to take legal action against the terrorist, the statement said, “The United States calls for Saeed’s full and expeditious prosecution for his involvement in the planning of numerous acts of terror, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 innocent people, six Americans among them.”
Pakistan arrested Saeed as he was traveling to Gujranwala, city in eastern Pakistan. The arrest came just days ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first official visit to Washington to meet US President Donald Trump on July 22 at the White House. In June, Khan had vowed to crack down on militant groups operating in Pakistan amid growing US and international pressure.
The Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) in the US State Department also tweeted over the arrest: “The arrest of LeT leader Hafiz Saeed is a positive step. A full & expeditious prosecution for his involvement in numerous acts of terror, such as the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans is necessary. The victims of terrorist attacks deserve justice.”
But the tweet from President Trump generated some confusion as he tweeted: “After a ten year search, the so-called “mastermind” of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan. Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!”
In the last decade, Saeed has been repeatedly arrested and then released by the courts in Pakistan. His most recent release from house arrest was late in 2017, and the US State Department had rebuked Islamabad saying, “the Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes.” Since the latest release, Saeed has been seen appearing repeatedly in public to address large crowds of his supporters.
Saeed was labeled a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” and since 2012, the US State Department has offered $10 million reward for information that helps bring him to justice.