Islamabad/Mumbai: The chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was arrested on Wednesday. India has always considered him as a most wanted terrorist because of his ties to LeT and his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the 2006 Mumbai train bombings and the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.
Hafiz — a title bestowed upon people who know the Quran by heart — was born to a conservative family in Pakistan Punjab in 1950. His family members were allegedly killed during their Partition journey from Shimla to Lahore.
His first big break came when Pakistani dictator General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq appointed him to the state-run Council on Islamic Ideology. Later, he was posted as professor of Islamic studies at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore.
The university sent him to Saudi Arabia in the early eighties, where he began his journey as a jihadist, supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed holds two master’s degrees from the University of Punjab and a specialization in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language from King Saud University.
In 1987, Saeed founded Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad, a part of the organisation Jamait Ahl-e-Hadis, which spawned the jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in 1990.
December 2001: Pakistan took Saeed into custody on December 21, 2001 due to an Indian government assertion that he was involved in the December 13, 2001 attack on the Lok Sabha.
He was held until March 31 2002, released, and then taken back into custody on May 15.
He was placed under house arrest on October 31 2002 after his wife Maimoona Saeed sued the province of Punjab and the Pakistan federal government for what she claimed was an illegal detention
August 2006: After the July 11, 2006 Mumbai train bombings, the provincial government of Punjab, Pakistan arrested him on August 9 2006 and kept him under house arrest.
He was released on August 28 2006 after a Lahore High Court order. He was arrested again on the same day by the provincial government and was kept in the Canal Rest House in Sheikhupura. He was finally released after the Lahore High Court order on October 17 2006.
November 26, 2008: Ten members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out synchronised attacks at multiple locations in Mumbai and killed 166 civilians. Nine militants were killed. Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab was the sole attacker to be caught alive.
December 2008: India sent formal request to United Nations Security Council to list Hafiz Saeed and his charity organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), as known aliases of Lashkar-e-Taiba. India said, “The close links between the (two) organisations are of immediate concern with regard to their efforts to mobilise and orchestrate terrorist activities.”
Saeed denied this. “No Lashkar-e-Taiba man is in Jamaat-ud-Dawa and I have never been a chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba,” he told a TV channel on December 10, 2008. The following day he was placed under house arrest, accused of having links to the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed at least 166 people.
June 2009: The case against Saeed dragged on, until the Lahore High Court deems his containment to be unconstitutional, and ordered his release.
July 2009: The Punjab provincial government filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the release order.
August 2009: On August 25, Interpol issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Saeed, which was intended to compel Pakistan to share information about crimes, criminals, and threats etc. with intelligence counterparts around the world.
September 2009: Saeed was placed under house arrest again.
October 2009: The Lahore High Court dropped all criminal charges against Saeed. It said there was not enough evidence, and that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is not a banned organization. This order came after India gave Pakistan information against Saeed which is based on the testimony of Kasab.
May 2011: In an effort to pressure Pakistan into action, India published a list of its 50 most wanted fugitives hiding in Pakistan.
April 2012: On 3 April, 2012, the United States placed a 10 million dollar bounty on Saeed. JuD and Lashkar-e-Taiba are both blacklisted by the US. The JuD, however, responded by describing the US move as “yet another attack on Islam and Muslims”.
February 2013: Saeed “lived an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighbourhood” in Pakistan, according to this account by New York Times reporter Declan Walsh.
“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” Saeed, now 64-years-old, told the reporter.
January 2015: In a move towards the execution of the National Action Plan against terrorism, Pakistan’s interior ministry included the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Haqqani network on a list of banned outfits.
Saeed said the ban would make no difference and his party “will continue serving humanity on the same pattern.”
November 2016: Pakistan government banned the coverage of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Saeed after the organisation was added to the international list of terrorist groups.
January 2017: On January 31, the Trump administration threatened to put Pakistan on the list of nations against whom an immigration ban is imposed because their citizens are seen as a threat.
A day later, Hafiz Saeed was put under house arrest by Pakistani authorities. The government announced that the 90-day detention period could be extended if needed.
September 2017: Pakistan banned Saeed’s new terror front Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK). As JuD was earlier put on the list of proscribed organisations, Saeed was forced to run his activities under the TAJK banner.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif acknowledged that Hafiz Saeed, the Haqqanis and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are “liabilities” for the country, but Pakistan did not have the required “assets” to get rid of them.
In retaliation, Saeed filed a Rs 100 million defamation case against Asif.
October 2017: Lahore High Court warned that Saeed would have to be freed from house arrest unless enough evidence is generated against him.
November 2017: Approximately 10 months after his house arrest in January, Saeed was freed once again on the orders of the Lahore High Court. The high court overruled the government’s request to extend the detention period. The government said the release of a world recognised terrorist may trigger international sanctions against Pakistan.
June 2019: Financial Action Task Force (FATF) voiced concern over Pakistan’s failure to do enough to contain terror funding in its soil and not registering cases against terror masterminds Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar under anti-terror laws.
July 2019: Pakistan arrested Saeed and has been sent to judicial custody. According to Pakistan’s media, he will face trial.