Pakistan fails to nab 19 most wanted LeT terrorists even 12 years after 26/11 attack

The FIA, Pakistan's top investigating agency, has been probing the Mumbai terror attack case since 2009
Last Updated 26 November 2020, 11:41 IST

Twelve years after the 26/11 attack, Pakistan has placed 19 members of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in a list of the "Most Wanted Terrorists" for their role in the heinous assault, but it has not initiated any serious efforts to nab them and also punish seven others who are facing trial here.

The security agencies here are clueless about the whereabouts of these 19 most wanted terrorists. Some of them have been hiding in Pakistan and others are believed to have fled the country. These terrorists were either crew members of the boats used by the attackers or financiers of the 26/11 attack.

The move to place 19 LeT terrorists in the list apparently came following the Paris-based global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog’s recent decision to retain Pakistan on its grey list till February 2021.

The Financial Action Task Force made the decision after Islamabad failed to fulfill its six key obligations, including failure to take action against two of India's most wanted terrorists – Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammed head Masood Azhar.

The security agencies have prepared a list of over 1,200 most wanted/high profile terrorists in Pakistan to enable more coordination among authorities to go after them, officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told PTI.

The FIA, Pakistan's top investigating agency, has been probing the Mumbai terror attack case since 2009 and is looking for the 19 "most wanted terrorists" involved in the deadly terror assault that sent shockwaves across the country and even brought India and Pakistan to the brink of a war.

In November 2008, 10 LeT terrorists sailed into Mumbai from Karachi and carried out coordinated attacks, killing 166 people and injuring over 300. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and hanged after trial in India.

On the 12th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attack, its mastermind Saeed is in jail in Lahore, serving a collective over 21-year sentence under terror financing charges.

Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, was arrested on July 17 last year. Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the LeT.

And the LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi has been operating with impunity in the country after securing bail in the Mumbai terror attack case over five years ago.

The 26/11 case has been pending in the anti-terrorism courts of Rawalpindi/Islamabad since 2009.

The other six accused -- Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum -- who are facing charges of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attack, are lodged at the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

The Pakistan government says it has recently introduced a number of fresh legislations to enable security forces to confront terrorist groups more effectively.

Making the information about the 19 most wanted LeT terrorists public for the first time, the FIA says Amjad Khan of Multan was a crew member of LeT (boat Al-Hussaini and boat Al-Fauz).

“He also purchased the boat Al Fauz which was used during the Mumbai terror attacks. He also purchased a Yamaha motor-boat engine, life jackets, inflatable boats etc. From ARZ Water Sport Karachi these things were used in Mumbai terror attacks and recovered by Indian authorities,” it says.

Iftikhar Ali, a resident of Faisalabad, obtained Voice-over Internet Protocol (VOIP) connection for terrorist communication, it says.

The FIA further says Shahid Ghafoor of Bahawalpur was a captain/Tandol of boats Al Hussaini & Al Fauz.

"Muhammad Usman of Sahiwal, Ateequer Rehman of Lahore, Riaz Ahmed of Hafizabad, Muhammad Mushtaq of Gujranwala, Muhammad Naeem of DG Khan, Abdul Shakoor of Karachi, Muhammad Sabir of Multan, Usman Bashir of Lodhran, Shakil Ahmed of Rahim Yar Khan and Abdul Rehman of Bawalnagar were crew members of boats Al Hussaini & Al Fouz used by the terrorists,” the FIA says.

Giving details of the other most wanted LeT terrorists, the FIA says Usman Zia of Rawalpindi transferred Rs 80,000 in the account of accused Hammad Amin Sadiq and Shahid Jamil Riaz in ABL Karachi.

Similarly, Abbas Nasir of Khanewal transferred Rs 2,53,690 in their account. Javed Iqbal of Kasur and Mukhtar Ahmed of Mandi Bahauddin transferred Rs 1,86,430 and Rs 2,98,047 respectively in Sadiq’s account.

The FIA says Ahmed Saeed of Bbatagram transferred Rs 21,00,000. Muhammad Khan of Turbat provided Al-Hussaini boat to the terrorists involved in the 26/11 attack.

Talking to the PTI on the current status of the Mumbai attack case, FIA’s chief prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar said: "The case proceedings have come to halt after India refused to send its 24 witnesses to Pakistan for recording of their statements and other evidence. The case cannot move further till India’s cooperation on the issue."

Practically, there have not been any proceedings in this case for the last two years or so. Neither the Imran Khan government intends to challenge the bail of Lakhvi in the Supreme Court.

According to the FIA, the prosecution does not have strong enough evidence to challenge Lakhvi’s bail.

Neither Saeed nor any of his associates convicted in terror financing cases have applied for bail in superior court.

"Perhaps the convicted JuD men are told to wait for Pakistan coming out of the FATF’s grey list before they move to court for bail,” a political analyst commented.

(Published 26 November 2020, 11:28 IST)

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