'Mumbai mastermind' Hafeez living 'fearless, open' life in Pak despite 10mln bounty

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 16, 2013 10:10 hrs

Mumbai terror attacks' mastermind and one of the best known jihadi leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who has a 10 million dollar bounty on his head, is leading an open, and apparently fearless life in Pakistan, a report has said.

Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, in which over 160 people, were killed.

The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group.

According to the New York Times, at his Lahore compound, a fortified house, office and mosque, Saeed is shielded not only by his supporters, but also by the Pakistani state.

On a recent evening, police officers screened visitors at a checkpoint near his house, while other officers patrolled an adjoining park, watching by floodlight for intruders, the paper said.

According to the paper, analysts believe that Saeed's very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty.

As American troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next door, Lashkar is at a crossroads, and its fighters' next move, whether to focus on fighting the West, disarm and enter the political process, or return to battle in Kashmir, will depend largely on Saeed.

The paper pointed out that Saeed's freedom to roam around Lahore, and, indeed, across Pakistan, suggested that some generals still believe the "good" jihadis are worth having around.

Western intelligence officials say Lashkar's training camps in northern Pakistan have not been shut down. One of those camps was the training ground of David C. Headley, an American citizen recently sentenced to prison by an American court for his role in the Mumbai attacks.

The paper added that his support of the state puts him at odds with the Pakistani Taliban, which, he claims, are secretly supported by America and India, a familiar refrain in the right-wing media. (ANI)

More from Sify: