Pakistan: Hafiz Saeed gets 31 years in jail for terror financing

Founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed by US and India for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, sentenced in two cases of terror financing.

Hafiz Saeed walks to court in 2017.
Hafiz Saeed walks to a Pakistani court before it ordered his release from house arrest in Lahore in this November 22, 2017 photo [File: Mohsin Raza/Reuters]

A Pakistani court has sentenced Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the armed group blamed by the United States and India for the deadly 2008 Mumbai siege, to 31 years in prison in two cases of terrorism financing.

Court documents show Saeed was found guilty of multiple breaches in the two cases, but it was not immediately clear how much jail time it would entail given his current incarceration and the sentences’ running concurrently.

“The sentences awarded to convict Hafiz Muhammad Saeed run concurrently of this case and of previously awarded, if any,” said a court order dated April 7.

Saeed, who was arrested in 2019, is already in jail serving a 15-year sentence after being found guilty on similar charges of terror financing in 2020.

His lawyer, Naseeruddin Nayyar, said Saeed can appeal the latest sentence.

Saeed has been arrested and released several times over the past decade and denies involvement with armed operations, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed, some of whom were Americans.

The US offered a reward of $10m for information leading to the conviction of Saeed.

Following his arrest, the Pakistani government seized Saeed’s extensive network of mosques, schools, seminaries and charities and other assets in the country.

Under Pakistani law, unless a sentence is thrown out or reduced on appeal, Saeed will have to serve them consecutively.

The LeT group was active for years in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and India but claimed by both.

Relations between Pakistan and India were strained after the Mumbai attack. The rival South Asian powers have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

Saeed’s conviction also comes as Pakistan tries to avoid punitive blacklisting by global dirty money watchdog the Financial Action Task Force, which judges a country’s ability to combat illicit financing, including to armed groups.

Pakistan has remained on the “grey list” since 2018.

Source: News Agencies