India is requesting the extradition of a man from Pakistan who is suspected to be behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The man in question is named Sajid Mir, a member of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group. Lashkar-e-Taiba is an extremist Islamic militant organization whose name translates to ‘Army of the Righteous’ or ‘Army of the Pure’.
India and the United Stated have both indicted Mir for his suspected involvement in the 2008 attacks that killed approximately 170 people. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations believes him to be the “chief planner of the attacks, directing preparations and reconnaissance” and to be “one of the Pakistan-based controllers during the attacks”, according to the FBI website that offers up to five million dollars for information leading to an arrest and conviction of Mir.
In November 2008, ten Pakistani men associated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group traveled from Karachi, Pakistan, to Mumbai – India’s largest city and financial capital – on a boat. They hijacked a fishing trawler, a commercial fishing vessel, where they killed four crew members, threw their bodies overboard and slit the captain’s throat. The ten terrorists then docked at the Mumbai waterfront near the Gateway of India monument, where they continued to hijack modes of transportation, including a police van, and then split into groups to carry out the attacks with automatic weapons and grenades.
From 26 to 29 November, they attacked targets across Mumbai, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, Cafe Leopold, Cama and Albless Hospital, a Jewish community center called Nariman House, Oberoi-Trident Hotel, and Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. Victims ranged from local Mumbaikars to visitors from all over the world. At the hotels, many hotel staffers died or were wounded trying to protect guests. Nine of the ten gunmen were killed during the attacks as well. The lone survivor was executed in November of 2012.
Because six Americans were killed during the three days of attacks, Mir was indicted by the United States on April 21, 2011. He was charged with conspiracy to injure property of foreign government; providing material support to terrorists; killing a citizen outside of the U.S. and aiding and abetting; and bombing places of public use. A warrant for his arrest was issued on April 22, 2011.
Pakistan took legal action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed last year. He was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for a case related to terrorism financing. Though he claimed to have no connection to terrorist organizations, Saeed was also the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charitable arm of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Despite Saeed’s conviction, the U.S. State Department’s 2019 country report on terrorism claimed that Pakistan continued to provide safe harbour to other top militant leaders, including Mir. Pakistan rejects the U.S. allegations. Pakistan is currently trying to get off the greylist of the Financial Action Task Force, the global watchdog for money laundering and terrorism financing, but an Indian official said that the lack of action against Mir is in direct conflict with the assurances of Pakistan to the FATF.
Amir Rana, executive director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies told The Associated Press last week that the U.S. State Department’s report serves as a warning to Pakistan that it needs to do more to target terrorist financing if it wants to succeed in getting off the greylist. If they do not succeed, Pakistan will be put on the blacklist, severely restricting the Pakistani government’s international borrowing.
“The tone of the report this year was more critical than the previous year’s,” Rana said. “This is a warning that it needs to do more to stay off the blacklist, to dismantle terrorist groups still operating in Pakistan.”
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