Q+A - Who is Pakistan's Hafiz Mohammad Saeed?

ISLAMABAD Mon Jul 6, 2009 3:54pm IST

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa is seen in Islamabad in this May 22, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa is seen in Islamabad in this May 22, 2005 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood/Files

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ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan lodged appeals on Monday against a court decision to release Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, an Islamist militant leader whom India has accused of plotting a bloody assault on the Indian city of Mumbai in November.

Saeed was put under house arrest in early December after a U.N. Security Council committee added him and an Islamist charity he heads to a list of people and organisations linked to al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Here are some questions and answers about Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Islamic groups in Pakistan.

WHO IS SAEED?

-- A former teacher of Islamic studies at Lahore's University of Engineering and Technology, Saeed co-founded Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in 1990.

-- The LeT for years battled Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region, but Saeed stepped down as its leader shortly after India accused the group of being behind a militant attack on its parliament in December 2001. The group was banned in Pakistan in January 2002.

-- Saeed now heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Islamist charity, which the United Nations said in December was an LeT front.

WHO ARE LASHKAR-E-TAIBA AND JAMAAT-UD-DAWA?

-- Lashkar-e-Taiba means "the army of Taiba". Taiba is the old name of the Muslim holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. The group's name has also been translated as "the army of the pure". It was an offshoot of Markaz Dawatul Irshad, an Islamic charity and educational organisation later renamed Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which was at the forefront of relief work after a 2005 earthquake killed 73,000 people in northern Pakistan.

-- Lashkar based its philosophy on Wahabism, the austere brand of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia, and has relied on donations from overseas.

-- Its objective is to Islamicise South Asia and to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

-- Until recently, the JuD had an extensive welfare network across Pakistan funded by donations.

-- JuD members have also been aiding people displaced by a Pakistani army offensive against militants in the northwest.

WHAT HAS LASHKAR-E-TAIBA DONE?

-- The group claimed responsibility for an attack on an army base in New Delhi's Red Fort which killed three people in 2000. It also claimed an attack on Srinagar airport in January 2001 that led to the deaths of five Indians and six militants and an attack in April 2001 on Indian border forces.

-- In December 2001, gunmen raided India's parliament, killing 14 people. India accused the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad and the LeT of being responsible. The attack brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of a fourth war. Lashkar denied it was involved.

-- The group was blamed for, but denied, bomb attacks on markets in New Delhi that killed about 66 people in October 2005.

-- India says the assault on Mumbai last November was carried out by Pakistan-based members of the LeT.

WHAT COUNTER-MEASURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN?

-- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf banned the two groups accused of the attack on India's parliament in January 2002. The United States designated Lashkar a "foreign terrorist organisation" in 2001.

-- The United States froze the assets of four prominent LeT members in May 2008 including Saeed, who the United States said was Lashkar's chief who played a major role in operational and fund-raising activities.

-- It named the others as Pakistan-born Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, chief of operations, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, chief of finance and Indian-born Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq, described as the main Lashkar financier in the 1980s and 1990s.

-- A U.N. Security Council committee in December added Saeed and the JuD to a list of people and organisations linked to al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Sources: Reuters/Janes World Insurgency & Terrorism/FAS

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