Mumbai chief operated in Chechnya, Bosnia and Iraq before India

Lashkar chief Hafeez Saeed remains defiant

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New Delhi: The UN Security Council has declared Lashkar-e-Taiba and its key men as terrorists, but who exactly are these men and more importantly what motivates them.

Hafeez Saeed may be one of the wanted men in the world, but on the day the UN banned the Jammat-ud-Daawa, popularly known as the front for the LeT. Its chief Hafeez Saeed was on every Pakistani channel holding a press conference from an undisclosed location claiming innocence.

“If there is evidence against us please present it in court and not to media,” said Hafiz Saeed.

Born in Shimlam, a teacher by profession, Saeed shifted to Pakistan after partition and co-founded the Markaz Dawat-ul-Irshad along with Abdullah Yusuf Azzam.

In 1990, he founded the Lashkar and became the key man behind the attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. Soon after, the Markaz-Dawat-ul-Irshad was banned but it returned as the Jammat-ud-Daawa.

Saeed and LeT have made it clear that their Jihad is not limited to Jammu and Kashmir, but that they will wage war across India.

The demolition of Babri Masjid and Gujarat riots became his fodder. According security agencies, these two events are the biggest motivators for Saeed’s recruits.

Along with Saeed, three other Lashkar operatives have also been put on the most wanted list. They are suspected to have carried out the serial train bombings in Mumbai, and the srtike on the India Parliament among many other attcks.

Zaki-ur Rehman Lakvi, a key commander from Okhara who has operated in Chechnya, Bosnia and Iraq before he turned his sights on India, is one of the Lashkar’s key planners.

The other two are Zaki-ur-Rehman and Haji Mohammed Ashraf. There are no available photographs of these men. Their role ensure funds for the LeT.

But what does the UN ban mean on the ground. After the Mumbai serial train blasts, Saeed was put under house arrest twice by Pakistan, only to be released without charges. The present arrests, Indian agencies fear, will go much the same way.

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