Trump Mocked For Tweet On Arrest Of Mumbai Attacks Suspect

Pakistanis on Thursday mocked US President Donald Trump’s claim that the alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind had been arrested “after a ten-year search” while he was actually in the public eye for much of the decade.

Hafiz Saeed, a firebrand cleric accused by Washington and New Delhi of being behind the 2008 attacks, was taken into custody on Wednesday, days ahead of a trip by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington for his first meeting with Trump.

“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!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

But Saeed, who heads the UN-designated terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and has a $10 million US bounty on his head, has never been missing.

Instead, when he has not been in the custody of the Pakistani authorities, he has courted the limelight, giving public speeches and televised interviews and even attempting to launch a political party to contest last year’s general election.

Among the wave of social media users pointing this out to Trump were journalists highlighting the easy access they have been given to Saeed over the years.

“It’s Hafiz Saeed. Not Jason Bourne” tweeted Pakistani news anchor Amber Shamsi.

“I also interviewed Hafiz Muhammad Saeed for @AJEnglish back in 2015 at a JuD-run mosque and school in Islamabad. Did not take a lot of finding that time, either,” added Al Jazeera’s Islamabad-based correspondent Asad Hashim.

“Finding him was never an issue. He operated freely and was highly visible,” wrote Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, adding that Trump should “immediately fire whoever gave him the wrong information”.

The US Foreign Affairs Committee also hit back at the president, citing the eight times Saeed has been arrested — and released — by Pakistani authorities since 2001.

“Let’s hold the (applause) until he’s convicted,” tweeted the committee on its official account.

Saeed’s freedom to move around Pakistan has enraged India for years, with Delhi repeatedly calling for his prosecution over his alleged role in the 2008 attack that killed more than 160 people.

Many linked his latest detention to Khan’s visit with Trump. The pair are to meet in Washington on July 22.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has frequently singled out Islamabad for failing to rein in extremists and being an unfaithful partner in the fight against militants.

“Hafiz Saeed was definitely not on the run when I met him at home in Lahore in 2013. His liberty, or lack of, is often a function of international pressure on Pakistan over its support for militancy,” tweeted New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh.

The move against Saeed also comesĀ as Pakistan is facing a potential blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an anti-money-laundering monitor based in Paris — for failing to do enough to combat terror financing.

AFP

India Executes Yakub Memon, Mumbai Bomb Plotter

MemonIndia has executed Yakub Memon, the man convicted of financing the terror attack, 22 years after the deadly Mumbai bombings.

Memon was hanged at a prison in Nagpur in the western state, hours after the Supreme Court dismissed a final plea to stay the sentence.

The 1993 serial were allegedly carried out to avenge the killing of Muslims in riots, a few months earlier.

The execution came despite the fact that India rarely carries out death sentences. Only three people had been executed since 2004.

Lawyers and activists had petitioned on behalf of Memon to Supreme Court Chief Justice, H L Dattu, after Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee, rejected a clemency plea late on Wednesday.

His lawyers had argued to the Supreme Court that executions are only to be carried out after seven days have passed, following the rejection of a mercy petition.

In March 1993, a series of bombs ripped through the capital of Mumbai’s financial district, killing at least 257 people and injuring a thousand others.

The Bombay Stock Exchange, the offices of Air India and a luxury hotel were among about a dozen targets of the blasts.

The attack remains the most devastating attack on Indian soil and came after a series of Hindu-Muslim riots in Mumbai.

Of the 11 suspects sentenced in 2007 for their role in the devastating attacks, Memon was the only one sentenced to death. He was convicted for being “the driving spirit” behind the attacks.

Meanwhile, his brother ‘Tiger’ Memon and fellow alleged collaborator, Dawood Ibrahim, are still believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

The lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was hanged in 2012, while a Kashmiri separatist was executed in New Delhi, the following year, after being convicted of involvement in a deadly 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.