Pakistan books cleric 'linked to Mumbai attacks'
Pakistan has registered two anti-terror cases against the head of a banned charity blacklisted in the West as a terrorist group and linked by India to the Mumbai attacks, police said Friday, AFP reported.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed heads Jamaat-ud-Dawa and founded the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group accused by India and Washington of killing 166 people in Mumbai last year in attacks that damaged relations with Pakistan.
The cases were registered against him on Wednesday by security officials in Faisalabad, an industrial town in the central Punjab province.
"Saeed has been booked for inciting public sentiments and arranging and addressing unlawful congregation", police official Mohammad Mansha told AFP.
During a meeting with activists of his banned organisation in Faisalabad, Saeed urged people to wage jihad against anti-Islamic forces and has criticised the Pakistani government in recent speeches, police said.
Another police official, Rana Mohammad Ashfaq, confirmed two cases against Saeed had been registered under anti-terrorism laws after the cleric sought donations to advance jihad.
A spokesman for Jammat-ud-Dawa strongly condemned the case registration.
"The government should not take criticism from someone as a crime... Hafiz Saeed did not commit any crime by talking about jihad as it is also mentioned in the holy Koran," said the spokesman, Yahya Mujahid.
Pakistan put Hafiz and three of his co-leaders under house arrest in early December and publicly shut offices of the charity after the UN Security Council blacklisted the organisation a terror group.
But Saeed was released in June on order from the high court in Pakistan's eastern city Lahore.
The United States considers Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which operates out of a sprawling headquarters near Lahore, a terror group and Pakistan came under huge Western pressure to round up Saeed and other Dawa members.
Saeed, whom India accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, reportedly abandoned LeT when it was outlawed in Pakistan following an attack on the Indian parliament, which New Delhi blamed on LeT.
New Delhi accused "official agencies" in Pakistan of being involved in the 60-hour assault by 10 militant gunmen on India's financial capital.
Pakistan has arrested five people suspected of involvement in the assault, including the alleged mastermind, Zakiduddin Lakhvi. Their trial is underway.