Micro-blogging site Twitter suspended terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder and Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's Twitter account on Monday for violating its policies following pressure from the US government, senior government sources told Hindustan Times.
Saeed, who has been on Twitter for over two years, had been tweeting under the handle @HafizSaeedJUD, or Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), an organisation created after the US government declared the LeT a terrorist organisation. While the main JuD handle was suspended, two other handles related to the JuD -- Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) and JuD Arabic -- continued to operate.
The US government, already grappling with growing evidence of fundamentalist groups using social media to recruit for militant groups such as Islamic State, decided to increase pressure for the suspension of the account, sources said.
"We have had some discussions with the US during our bilateral talks with the US on the presence of elements inimical to Indian interests, but we never discussed a suspension," a senior Indian security official told HT. "We have received information through informal channels that the US government worked with Twitter for the suspension."
According to the official, the US worked on the suspension unilaterally and convinced Twitter to shut down Saeed's account. This was confirmed by at least two other security officials.
Twitter India declined to comment on the suspension. "We do not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons. We do not proactively monitor content on the platform. We review all reported accounts against our rules, which prohibit direct, specific threats of violence against others," said the official Twitter India spokeperson.
The Twitter account was suspended days after Saeed told supporters Pakistanis should come forward and help the Kashmiris in getting "freedom" from India. His comments followed a string of militant attacks in Kashmir, including one on an army camp in Uri that led to the deaths of several Indian security personnel.
Describing himself as the Ameer of the JuD, Saeed frequently abused the Indian government on his Twitter handle. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the United Nations general assembly recently, Saeed took to Twitter to abuse India's statements. The JuD was banned as a terrorist front organisation after the Mumbai attacks through a UNSC resolution.
The LeT masterminded the terror attack on Mumbai in 2008 that left over 160 people dead. India declared Saeed of the most-wanted terrorists and has repeatedly sought his custody from Pakistan. However, Pakistan continues to deny his role in the 26/11 attack and allows him to roam freely in the country, building support for the LeT.