Sajid Mir, a senior operative of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the alleged mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, who was once thought to be dead, is in the custody of Pakistani authorities. Sources familiar with the matter said Mir’s arrest was reported to Delhi a few months ago.
But in the absence of an official public announcement by Pakistan of the details of the arrest or its production in a court of law, Indian authorities have not yet been able to independently confirm the arrest, sources said.
Nikkei Asia reported on Friday that Pakistan had arrested Mir for stepping off the “gray list” of the Financial Action Task Force, an international anti-terrorism financial watchdog. Indian agencies consider Mir more dangerous than Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed.
The news report quoted an FBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying Mir had been arrested, tried and sentenced. However, it is not clear in which court he was tried, as there is no public record of such cases. Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court has convicted, convicted and sentenced Lashkar members, including Saeed.
It also quoted former Pakistani finance minister Hammad Azhar, who was in charge of negotiations with the FATF, as saying that Pakistan had taken action against Mir and other terrorists which was “satisfactory” to the international community.
The report also quoted a Pakistani official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that Pakistanis had “acknowledged” to both the United States and India that Mir, who had not previously been found or declared dead by Pakistani authorities, had been found.
If Mir is kept in custody, India’s long-standing demand to Pakistan that he be found and brought to justice for the 26/11 attacks will be ticked off India’s Most Wanted list. That list includes Major Abdur Rahman alias Pasha, Brigadier Riaz, Abu Kahafa, Abu Al Kama and Abu Hamza among others who are still at large.
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David Headley, a Pakistani-American Lashkar operative who lived in Mumbai to finalize the target of the 26/11 attacks and was arrested by the FBI in Chicago in late 2008 on drug charges, had the names of Mir and a Major Iqbal, whom he described as an ISI officer. , During his testimony in a U.S. court in 2011 and during his testimony in a court in Mumbai in 2016.
Mir is also on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, with a 5-million reward for information about him. The FBI described him as the “mastermind” of the Mumbai attacks. In 2011, a U.S. court indicted him for his role in the Mumbai attacks, along with Headley, his associates in the U.S. and others, including Tahaur Rana and Major Iqbal. Until December 2021, U.S. authorities assessed that Mir was a free man in Pakistan.
Mir joined the LeT in the early 1990s and is said to be a talented Headley, then an FBI / Drug Enforcement Authority informant, recruited into the army in 2005 and documented with the help of FIRs and court-appointed Pakistani military officers, 2006 Planned the Mumbai attacks from.
Mir deployed Headley to Mumbai in early 2006 with the aim of retrieving him, training 10 terrorists from Thatha in Sindh to the Mumbai coast, as well as giving them real-time instructions over the phone as soon as the attack was announced.
Investigators have determined that Mir’s voice ordered a gunman from Chabad House to kill a Jewish hostage during the attack after prisoner exchange talks failed.
Three years before the Mumbai attacks, according to Headley’s testimony, Mir once entered India via Wagah with a team of Pakistani cricket fans to watch the India-Pakistan match. Indian officials believe it was also a recovery visit.
Indian intelligence agencies consider his organizational prowess to make him “the most dangerous person in Pakistan”, “the most dangerous of all”.
In 2001, Mir, who was in the international branch of the LeT, began recruiting jihadists from various countries to fight the Americans in Afghanistan.
Mir first came to the attention of U.S. security officials in 2002 when the FBI arrested 11 Islamist militants in Virginia with guns and maps of the White House. His name came up indirectly in the investigation as the head of Lashkar’s international operations.
In 2003, Mir planned to bomb a target in Sydney with another foreign Lashkar-e-Taiba recruit, Willie Brigitte, an Afro-Caribbean, from Guadeloupe, a French foreign territory. The conspiracy was foiled, and Birgit Mir, who is facing trial in France, revealed his role. Jean-Louis Brugier, a French judge known as a “terrorist hunter”, determined from Birgit’s testimony and his own investigation that Mir was a senior Pakistani officer and that he was in the ISI. He came to the conclusion that there was a clear link between the LeT and the Pakistan Army and ISI.
Some security experts believe he is a civilian who may have received military training from the Pakistan Army. Some think he was in the Pakistan Army for a few years. Headley said in his deposition that Mir’s father-in-law was a cleric in the navy.
For the Indian authorities, as long as he was there, the possibility of another attack could not be ruled out. Headley handed over elements of various locations in the city other than the 26/11 attacks that he identified as potential targets.