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With eye on FATF bailout, Pakistan arrests Sajid Mir-- handler of the 2008 Mumbai attacks

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Pakistan arrests Sajid Mir, the wanted accused in the 2008 Mumbai 26/11 Terror Attack

After denying for 14 years about his presence and even claiming he was dead, Pakistan has finally arrested the main handler of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Quoting FBI sources, Nikkei Asia reported that Sajid Mir, the top leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is very much alive and in  captivity of the Pakistani security agencies.

“Sajid Mir is alive, in custody and has been sentenced,” one FBI source told Nikkei Asia.

Pakistan has not officially announced Mir’s arrest but it is learnt that before that last meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan has told the agency that it has arrested and prosecuted Sajid Mir. This triggered the process of removing Pakistan from the FATF  “Grey” list. The FATF, which tracks terror financing  said that Pakistan has fulfilled all requisite “action items” but the removal from the list will be subject to onsite verifications. 

According to FBI officials, the next step would be extradition of Sajid Mir who is both wanted by the US and India. Since Pakistan has not disclosed any details, there are many questions about Sajid Mir’s arrest, trial and sentencing. Even the FATF does not disclose the submission and documents by a member country, in this case Pakistan. 

According to the report, it was during the recent meetings when the US officials pursued the case of Sajid Mir who has a bounty on $ 5 Million USD that Pakistan finally admitted that Mir is in its custody. Mir is in India’s most wanted list for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

According to dossiers, on November 26, 2008, as many as 166 people of 17 different nationalities were killed and more than 300 wounded in multiple terror attacks in Mumbai. The “project manager” of these attacks  was Sajid Mir, the key operative of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The project moved Mir to the most wanted list of both the FBI and India. 

According to Pakistani American Dawood Sayed Gilani, who goes by the Western-sounding name David Coleman Headley, who is serving a 35-year sentence after a federal judge convicted him on charges of helping carry out the Mumbai attacks, Sajid Mir and three others -  Major Iqbal, who funded and planned the 26/11 attack,  Abu Qahafa the trainer of the attackers, and Mazhar Iqbal alias Abu al-Qama, who is a commander of the LeT are the key actors of the nefarious plot.

According to Indian security agencies, Mir visited India in 2005 using a fake passport issued by Pakistan in the name of Mohd Awan. According to the FBI, Sajid Mir, who is in his early 40s, goes by aliases Ibrahim, Wasi, Khalid, Vashi, Vashibhai, Bhai Ali, Ali Bhai, Moosa Bhai, Wasi Bhai, Wasi Ibrahim, Sajid Majeed, Sajjid Mir, Bhai Moosa and Ibrahim Shah.

According to the FBI chargesheet, beginning on November 26, 2008, and continuing through November 29, 2008, 10 attackers, trained by the Pakistan-based foreign terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out a series of coordinated attacks against multiple targets in Mumbai, including hotels, cafes, and a train station, killing 166 people.

"Six Americans were killed during the three-day attack. Mir allegedly served as the chief planner of the attacks, directing preparations and reconnaissance, and was one of the Pakistan-based controllers during the attacks," the FBI statement added.

When it comes to accepting the presence of terrorists operating on their soil, the Pakistani authorities continued to pursue a policy of denial, even as India and the US shared the dossiers with them.

When Sajid Mir's name first cropped up in relation to the Mumbai attacks, the Pakistanis feigned complete ignorance. They pretended that nobody by the name and the description existed. 

India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to hand over Sajid Mir but Pakistani authorities were always in denial mode. 

It was when the pressure became too much, especially after the FATF started insisting on Pakistan demonstrating intent through action, the Pakistanis declared that Sajid Mir had died. According to the report  “in the third week of April, they (Pakistani authorities) managed to “apprehend” Sajid Mir. Thus, the man who had been proclaimed dead and buried had been resurrected.

Despite its own public acknowledgment as well as the availability of all necessary evidence, including those shared by India, Pakistan is yet to show sincerity in delivering justice to the families of victims. 

Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT chief  Hafiz Saeed and his operation commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi are in Kot Lapkhapt jail in Lahore serving a term for several years in terror financing cases. The other accused are roaming freely. 

Also Read: Pakistan remains a safe haven for terrorists, including 2008 Mumbai attack masterminds: US report