Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
|Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
(Urdu: حافظ محمد سعید)
March 10, 1950 |
Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan
|Occupation||Leader of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah,
The organization is banned as terrorist organization by India, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia and Australia. India considers him one of its most wanted terrorists because of his alleged ties with Lashkar-e-Taiba and its involvement in attacks against India, and he is listed on the NIA Most Wanted list. The United Nations declared Jama'at-ud-Da'wah a terrorist organization in December 2008 and Hafiz Saeed a terrorist as its leader. In April 2012, the United States announced a bounty of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed, for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Since 2008, various Indian politicians have demanded that Saeed be handed over but there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.
Hafiz Saeed pleaded innocence and claimed that he has no links with LeT and that India has no evidence and no real proof behind their allegations. Pakistani officials said that Saeed was helping in identification and rehabilitation of former militants. Currently, he lives in Lahore, Pakistan in a "fortified house, office and mosque" that is guarded by Pakistani police and his supporters. As of 2013, he has started to do interviews with Western media, such as the New York Times newspaper.
In 1950, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was born in a Gujjar family in Sargodha, Punjab. As told by his father, Kamal-ud-Din, a farmer, in the fall of 1947, his family started migrating from Haryana and reached Pakistan in around four months. His family lost 36 of its members when migrating from Haryana to Lahore during the Partition of India. He is married and his wife's name is Maimoona.
General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq appointed Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to the Council on Islamic Ideology, and he later served as an Islamic Studies teacher at the University of Engineering and Technology (Lahore), Pakistan. He was sent to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s by the university for higher studies where he met Saudi Sheikhs who were taking part in the Afghan jihad. They inspired him to join his colleague, Professor Zafar Iqbal, in taking an active role supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. There he met some youth who later became his companions.
Lashkar's primary target is the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He is also quoted as saying, "There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy." Hafiz Muhammad Saeed holds two masters degrees from the University of Punjab and a specialization in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language from King Saud University.
In 1994, Saeed visited the United States, "during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston".
Pakistan detained Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. on December 21, 2001 in relation to Indian accusations of his involvement with the December 13, 2001 attack on the Lok Sabha. He was held until March 31, 2002, arrested again on May 15, and was placed under house arrest on October 31 of the same year.
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 but 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.
After the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, India submitted a formal request to the U.N. Security Council to put the group Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed on the list of individuals and organizations sanctioned by the United Nations for association with terrorism. India has accused the organization and its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, of being virtually interchangeable with Lashkar-e-Taiba. India said that the close links between the organizations, as well as the 2,500 offices and 11 seminaries that Jamaat-ud-Dawa maintains in Pakistan, "are of immediate concern with regard to their efforts to mobilize and orchestrate terrorist activities." On December 10, 2008, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed denied a link between LeT and JuD in an interview with Pakistan's Geo television stating that "no Lashkar-e-Taiba man is in Jamaat-ud-Dawa and I have never been a chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba."
On December 11, 2008, Hafiz Muhammed Saeed was again placed under house arrest when the United Nations declared Jamaat-ud-Dawa to be an LeT front. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was held in house arrest under the Maintenance of Public Order law, which allows authorities to detain temporarily individuals deemed likely to create disorder, until early June 2009 when the Lahore High Court, deeming the containment to be unconstitutional, ordered Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to be released. India quickly expressed its disappointment with the decision.
On July 6, 2009, the Pakistani government filed an appeal of the court's decision. Deputy Attorney General Shah Khawar told the Associated Press that "Hafiz Saeed at liberty is a security threat."
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was again placed under house arrest by the Pakistani authorities in September 2009.
On October 12, 2009, the Lahore High Court quashed all cases against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and set him free. The court also notified that Jama'at-ud-Da'wah is not a banned organization and can work freely in Pakistan. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of two judges hearing the case, observed "In the name of terrorism we cannot brutalise the law."
Indian attempts at extradition
On May 11, 2011, in an effort to place pressure on Pakistan, India publicly revealed a list of its 50 most wanted fugitives hiding in Pakistan. India believes Hafiz Saeed is a fugitive, but the Indian arrest warrant had no influence in Pakistan and presently has no effect on Saeed's movements within Pakistan. Following the Lahore High Court ruling, Saeed has been moving freely around the country. For many years, India has demanded that Saeed be handed over but there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.
Cooperation with Islamabad
In keeping with Pakistani establishment's wishes, Lashkar has been keeping focus on India and Saeed is among those who are thought to have helped Pakistan in capturing important al-Qaeda members like Abu Zubaydah. Senior Pakistani officials have said that Saeed is helping in de-radicalization and rehabilitation of former extremists and that security is being provided to him because he could be targeted by militants who disapprove of Saeed's cooperation with Islamabad.
In April 2012, the United States announced a bounty of $10 million US Dollars on Hafeez Saeed, for his alleged role in 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Saeed stated that he had nothing to do with the Mumbai attacks and condemned them. When asked about the bounty Saeed replied, "I am living my life in the open and the US can contact me whenever they want." He subsequently stated that he is ready to face "any American court" to answer the charges and added that if Washington wants to contact him they know where he is. "This is a laughable, absurd announcement. Here I am in front of everyone, not hiding in a cave," he said in a press conference. Saeed identified his leading role in the Difa-e-Pakistan council and US attempts to placate India as reasons behind the bounty.
Hafiz Saeed has criticized Pakistani leaders and has stated that they should aspire to be more like British Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson. He had declared his admiration for the British Conservative Party along with several Tory MPs when he lodged a petition to the Lahore High Court calling for public officials in Pakistan to tone down their privileged lifestyles. According to The Daily Telegraph, Saeed wrote in the petition that while Pakistan's political elite were 'living like kings and princes in palatial government houses,' Britain's prime minister lived in a 'four-bedroom flat.' He added, 'When the sun never set on the British Empire, the chief executive of that great country lived in the same house of a few marlas in a small street. That is truly Islamic, that is like following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet.'
In January 2013, India's Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's released a statement on the alleged existence of Hindu terrorism as well as the existence of Hindu terror camps on Indian soil, being run and organised by the BJP and the RSS. As a result, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa welcomed Shinde's statements and congratulated him for admitting the existence of Hindu terrorism. Hafiz Saeed demanded that the United States take serious notice of this statement by the Indian home minister regarding Hindu terrorist camps in India. “The US should now carry out drone attacks on these terror camps in India,” Saeed said.
Responding to a question about the nuclear warning issued by Indian authorities in Jammu and Kashmir after the 2013 India–Pakistan border incidents, Saeed said that in case of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, India should rather distribute nuclear safety pamphlets in Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta rather than in Kashmir.
Hafiz Saeed offered aid to those Americans who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. His organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa was prepared to send volunteers, medicine and food to those on the East Coast who were struggling to cope in the aftermath of the storm. Following his offer, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad rejected the offer and stated: "We respect the Islamic tradition of help to the needy but we can't take Hafiz Saeed's offer seriously."
In January 2013, Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan wrote an article in India's Outlook magazine about times where he would "become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India." Khan wrote that there were occasions when he had been accused of "bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation (Pakistan) rather than my own country." As a result of the controversy that followed the publication of this article, Hafiz Saeed offered Khan to move to Lahore if he feels 'insecure' in India. “Shahrukh will be welcome here,” Hafiz Saeed said, in an interview with Express News.
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