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Lashkar-e-Toiba founder under house arrest

Lashkar-e-Toiba founder under house arrest

Author:
Publication: Reuters
Date: August 10, 2006

Pakistani authorities have put the founder and former head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore, a spokesman for the Islamic charity he now runs, said on Thursday.

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed resigned five years ago from Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group suspected of involvement in Mumbai's serial blasts of July 11 that killed over 180 people, to become head of a charity called Jamaat-ud-Dawa, regarded as its sister organisation.

The United States has designated both as terrorist organisations.

"They informed us last night that Hafiz could not leave his residence and this restriction is for one month," Yahya Mujahid, Jamaat-ud-Dawa's spokesman said.

The charity had been banned from all public activities, he added.

After joining a US-led global war on terrorism following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Pakistan put the leaders of several militant organisations under house arrest. Saeed, however, was left alone.

According to analysts, Pakistan's reluctance to act more strongly against these groups probably stems from the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency's history of support for their activities.

Mujahid said police had been stationed at Saeed's residence and police had also cancelled permission for Jamaat-ud-Dawa to hold a rally in Lahore on August 12.

India has called for Pakistan to act more forcefully to shut down militant organisations in the wake of the Mumbai blasts, and New Delhi's suspicions of Pakistani links to the attacks have jeopardised a peace process the neighbours began over 2 years ago.

Both sides have now said they want to go on with talks to bring lasting peace between the two old foes.

An attack by Pakistani militants on India's parliament in December 2001 brought the two countries to the brink of a fourth war in mid- 2002. Lashkar-e-Taiba was one of the groups implicated in the attack.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was banned by Pakistan, and its members say it only operates out of Indian Kashmir these days, although members of Lashkar have been arrested in the United States.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa is regarded within the intelligence community as a fund-raising front for Lashkar-e-Taiba. It was added to a US State Department terrorist list earlier this year, and while Pakistan has put it on a watchlist it is not banned.

In a report issued last year, the State Department said Lashkar used the charity to gather funds and maintain ties with religious militant groups around the world, ranging from the Philippines to the Middle East and Chechnya.

Jamaat ud-Dawa has been prominent in providing relief after an earthquake killed over 73,000 people and left around three million destitute in Kashmir and northwest Pakistan in October.


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