Founder of the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, has slammed the United States’ decision to place a 10 million dollar reward for his capture, labeling it as “useless.”
“This is a ridiculous decision aimed at getting back at me for the campaign I am launching against NATO for using Pakistani territories,” he said in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya.
Saeed refuted allegations by the United States that he is wanted for his involvement in Mumbai’s 2008 attack.
“The Mumbai attacks happened four years ago so why was the United States silent all this time?”
Saeed added that the Pakistani courts acquitted him of this charge a year ago.
For Saeed, placing such a hefty reward for his capture is an indication of lack of information on the part of the Americans.
“They didn’t need to do that. They could have called me and I am willing to talk to them about anything they want.”
Saeed believes the U.S. made the decision to dedicate this amount of money for his capture, or for information on his whereabouts, based on information provided to them by India.
“This and the anti-NATO campaign I am leading [is behind their decision]. I believe [the campaign is] in the best interest of Pakistan and [the bounty] shows how the U.S. has been harmed by this campaign.”
Saeed, who currently lives in the Pakistani city of Lahore, heads the Pakistani Defense Council, together with several religious parties.
The council is putting pressure on the Pakistani government to stop cooperating with the United States and prevent NATO forces from passing through Pakistan on their way to Afghanistan.
“The U.S. made a very stupid mistake. Even though it is the world’s superpower, it does not act rationally.”
Saeed argued that his interview with Al Arabiya prooves that he is not hiding in a Tora Bora cave like the U.S. claims.
“I also interact with hundreds of thousands on a daily basis.”
Saeed is alleged to be responsible for the attacks that hit the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, which left 160 dead, among them Americans and Israeli.
The United States also placed a reward of three million U.S. dollars for the capture of Hafez Abdul Rahman Mekki, one of Saeed’s closest aides. Mekki is a preacher in a mosque in the Pakistani capital Islamabad and is known for his fluency in Arabic.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)