The 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (61) was arrested on Saturday in Pakistan on terror financing charges, according to an official statement.
The arrest came amidst growing international pressure on Islamabad to bring to justice terrorists roaming freely in the country.
The UN proscribed terrorist Lakhvi, who was on bail since 2015 in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case. He was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab province. Sources in CTD told PTI that Lakhvi was arrested from Lahore.
“Following an intelligence-based operation conducted by the CTD Punjab, proscribed organisation LeT leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was arrested on charges of terrorism financing,” the CTD said in an official statement.
It further said that Lakhvi was arrested in a case of terrorism financing registered in a police station of CTD Lahore.
“Lakhvi is accused of running a dispensary, using funds collected for terrorism financing. He and others also collected funds from this dispensary and used these funds for further terrorism financing. He also used these funds for personal expenses,” the CTD said.
The CTD said that in addition to belonging to proscribed organisation LeT, Lakhvi is also a UN designated individual.
“His trial will be held before the Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore,” it added.
Lakhvi was designated as a global terrorist by the UN in December 2008 for being associated with LeT and al-Qaeda and for "participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of" both the entities.
Proscribed terrorists and entities are subject to an assets freeze, wherein all states are required to freeze funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities, a travel ban that prevents the entry into or transit through nations' territories by the designated individuals and an arms embargo.
Last month, the UN Security Council's 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee allowed for a monthly payment of Pakistani Rupee 1.5 lakh for Lakhvi to meet his personal expenses.
The LeT, led by Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is instrumental in pushing Pakistan to take measures against terrorists roaming freely in Pakistan and using its territory to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere. The Paris-based FATF placed Pakistan on the Grey List in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to COVID-19 pandemic.
(With Inputs from PTI)