Chief of Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD) Hafiz Saeed was arrested Wednesday on terror financing charges by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Province, just days ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's maiden visit to the United States.
Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed aUSD 10 million bounty on, was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to getpre-arrest bail in terror financing cases registered against him there when hewas arrested, a CTD official told PTI.
"The JuD chief was going to Gujranwala from Lahore onWednesday morning when a CTD team intercepted him near Gujranwala city (some80-km from Lahore) and arrested him on terror financing charges," theofficial said.
Saeed was presented before an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) inGujranwala that sent him on judicial remand for seven days. He was subsequentlyshifted to Lahore's high-security KotLakhpat jail where former prime ministerNawaz Sharif is serving seven years imprisonment in a corruption case, theofficial said.
In a statement, the CTD said Saeed was arrested in a caseregistered in Gujranwala and he will face the trial in ATC, Gujranwala.
The CTD on 3 July had registered 23 FIRs against 13 topleaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) including Saeed on the charges of "terrorfinancing" in different cities of Punjab province.
On Monday, Saeed and his three aides were granted pre-arrestbail by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, which stopped police from arrestingthem till August 3 in a land grabbing case and setting up a Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) seminary over there.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a"Specially Designated Global Terrorist", and the US, since 2012, has offered aUSD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Under pressure from the international community, Pakistaniauthorities have launched investigations into matters of the LeT, the JuD andits charity wing the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) regarding their holdingand use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing.
Saeed's arrest comes just ahead of Prime Minister Khan'smaiden visit to the US on July 21 during which he will hold talks withPresident Donald Trump.
Trump has repeatedly asked Pakistan to abide by its UNSecurity Council commitments to deny militants safe haven and block theiraccess to funds.
Saeed's arrest is also being seen as a pressure on Pakistanin connection with its commitment to the Financial Act Task Force (FATF) whosenext deadline is in October.
Since the Khan government has taken control of the JuD andthe FIF properties including seminaries and mosques across the countryfollowing international pressure built up after the deadly Pulwama attack,Saeed was keeping a low profile at his Lahore's Jauhar Town residence.
He was even barred from entering the JuD headquarters inLahore and Muridke. According to officials, JuD's network includes 300seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance service.
The Pakistani government had also recently arrested theJuD's second-in-command Abdul RehmanMakki, who is brother-in-law of Saeed, onthe charges of making a public speech and terror financing charges.
The CTD said it booked Saeed and his 12 aides for 'terrorfinancing' in 23 cases after "irrefutable evidence" against them wasdetected.
The cases have been registered in Lahore, Gujranwala andMultan for collection of funds for terrorism financing throughassets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/ Non ProfitOrganisations (NPO) including Al-Anfaal Trust, DawatulIrshad Trust, Muaz BinJabal Trust, etc.
The CTD said investigation launched into financing mattersof proscribed organisations — JuD and LeT — in connection with implementationof UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities and Persons as directed byNSC (National Security Committee) in its Meeting of 1st January 2019 chaired byPrime Minister Khan for implementing National Action Plan. Saeed and others hadchallenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC) the CTD FIRs on which the courtissued notices to the federal government, the Punjab government and CTD andsought a reply from the respondents till July 30.
On January 31, 2017, Saeed and his four aides were put under house arrest by the Punjab government under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. Saeed was released from the house arrest in November, 2017 after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was also put under house arrest after the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009. PTI