Pakistan arrests Mumbai attacks ‘plotter’ for terrorism financing

The US and India accuse Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi of leading an armed group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

A supporter of Shiv Sena, a Hindu hardline group, holds Pakistan's national flag and a portrait of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi [File: Reuters]

Pakistan has arrested Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a leader of armed group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – blamed by the United States and India for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, a counterterrorism official said.

The arrest is in relation to “terrorism financing”, the official said on Saturday, and not a specific attack.

“Proscribed organisation LeT leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi [has been] arrested on charges of terrorism financing,” a spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Pakistan’s Punjab province said.

The suspect is said to have been running a medical dispensary to collect and disburse funds for “terrorism”, the spokesman said.

A sanctions committee of the United Nations Security Council says Lakhvi is LeT’s chief of operations and accuses him of being active in a number of other regions and countries, including Chechnya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Indian authorities said the lone surviving attacker involved in the 2008 Mumbai siege, in which 166 people were killed, had told interrogators before his execution that the assailants were in touch with Lakhvi.

India has long called on Pakistan to bring Lakhvi to trial, but Islamabad says New Delhi has not provided concrete evidence to try the LeT leader. He was first arrested in 2008 but was later released on bail.

Imran Gill, Lakhvi’s lawyer, confirmed the arrest and told Reuters news agency his case would be heard next week. He did not respond to further questions.

Another man that India says was the mastermind of the Mumbai siege, Hafiz Saeed, was convicted by a Pakistani court on two charges of “terrorism financing” last year. Saeed denies involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

Saeed was also designated a terrorist by the US Justice Department and carries a $10m reward on his head.

Relations between Pakistan and India were strained after the attack on India’s financial hub in November 2008. The rival South Asian powers have fought two wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Source: News Agencies