Pakistan frees suspected Mumbai attacks mastermind

Hafiz Saeed was under house arrest
Hafiz Saeed was under house arrest

A Pakistani court has ordered the release of one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed more than 160 people, less than a year after he was placed under house arrest.

Firebrand cleric Hafiz Saeed, who heads the UN-listed terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and has a $10 million US bounty on his head, will be freed tomorrow after the decision by the Lahore High Court, a JuD official said.

“The review board looking in to the case… has refused to extend his house arrest as the government failed to provide any evidence against the charges,” a spokesman for the party, Ahmed Nadeen said.

The horror of the Mumbai carnage played out on live television around the world as commandos battled the heavily armed gunmen, who arrived by sea on the evening of November 26, 2008.

It took the authorities three days to regain full control of the city. India has long said there is evidence that “official agencies” in Pakistan were involved in plotting the attack — a charge Islamabad denies.

JuD is considered by the US and India to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed for the attack on India’s financial capital.

Following a brief period of house arrest in 2008, Saeed led a high-profile public life and regularly delivered fiery anti-India speeches.

JuD has operated freely across the country and is popular for its charity work.

Saeed was placed under house arrest once more in January this year following years of foreign pressure, prompting demonstrations in several Pakistani cities.