Professor of Hate: why Hafeez Saeed is mad at India
Placed among the United States' top five most wanted terrorists list, Hafeez Mohammad Saeed hates India - it's his ideology. Here's a look at his life and why he hates India.India's most wanted mandelhi Updated: Apr 04, 2012 23:46 IST
Hafeez Mohammad Saeed hates India--it's his ideology. "There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy," he said once in one of his venomous hate speeches.
Hafeez -- a title bestowed upon people who know the Quran by heart -- was born to a conservative family in Sargodha in Pakistan Punjab in 1950. As many as 36 members of the family were allegedly killed during their Partition journey from Shimla to Lahore when Saeed's father Kamal-ud-din moved to Pakistan. The family history would form Saeed's hatred against the 'Hindu' nation.
Saeed's family settled in Mianwali district of Pakistan and over the years earned the reputation of being religious scholars. Saeed made theology his profession and quietly built a reputation as an expert in Islamic jurisprudence. His first big break came when Pakistani dictator General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq appointed him to the state-run Council on Islamic Ideology. Photos
A promotion was next: he was posted as professor of Islamic studies at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. The university sent him to Saudi Arabia in the early eighties, where he began his journey as a jihadist, supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
"Saeed was a product of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq's efforts to place jihad at the core of Pakistan's national project," says journalist Praveen Swami in The Hindu.
The Indian Express reports Saeed is married to the daughter of his maternal uncle, Hafiz Mohammad Abdullah Bahawalpuri, a theologian. In 2002, Saeed married the young widow of a militant.
In 1987, Saeed founded Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad, a part of the organisation Jamait Ahl-e-Hadis, which spawned the jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in 1990. Most wanted names of terror world
LeT has claimed responsibility for most of the daring guerrilla attacks against civilian and military targets in Indian Kashmir. Among these are: the Wandhama massacre on January 25, 1998 which witnessed the murder of 25 Kashmiri pundits and the March 2000 Chittisinghpura massacre in Kashmir killing 35 Sikhs.
India almost went to war with Pakistan when LeT militants attacked its Parliament. On December 13, 2001. Pakistan detained Saeed a week after the attack and he was held until March 31, 2002. He was arrested on May 15, and was placed under house arrest on October 31 of the same year. This would be the start of a pattern: Saeed would be arrested after Pakistan came under international pressure because of a terrorist incident but then cases against him would drag on.
Pakistan banned the Lashkar in January 2002, but Saeed denied any links with the group. He promptly became the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a charity which earned fame for its relief work during the 2005 earthquake relief work in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. JuD is actually a front for the Lashkar, security expert say.
Over 200 people died when bombs kept on Mumbai's city trains blew up on July 11, 2006. India accused the Laskhar of being the mastermind behind the blasts. Pakistan arrested Saeed twice, but he was released in October 2006 following an order by the Lahore high court.
After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India requested the UN Security Council to put the JuD and its chief on its list of organisations and individuals associated with terrorism.
India accused the JuD and Saeed, of being virtually interchangeable with Lashkar-e-Taiba. "The close links between the (two) organizations are of immediate concern with regard to their efforts to mobilize and orchestrate terrorist activities," India alleged.
Saeed denied this. "No Lashkar-e-Taiba man is in Jamaat-ud-Dawa and I have never been a chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba," he told a TV channel on December 10, 2008. The following day he was placed under house arrest, accused of having links to the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed at least 166 people.
The case dragged on and in June 2009 the Lahore high court released Saeed, citing insufficient evidence. The court ruled "the detention of Hafiz Saeed was a violation of the constitution and the law of this country."
On July 6, 2009, the Punjab provincial government moved the Pakistan Supreme Court stating that his (Saeed) freedom would pose a great threat to the nation. Deputy attorney general of Pakistan, Shah Khawar, told the Associated Press that "Hafiz Saeed at liberty is a security threat."
The Interpol issued a Red Corner Notice against Saeed, on August 25, 2009, along with Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, in response to India's requests for his extradition.
On October 12, 2009, all cases against Saeed were quashed by the Lahore high court and he was set free.
The court also notified that Jama'at-ud-Da'wah is not a banned organization and can work freely in Pakistan. "In the name of terrorism we cannot brutalise the law," the court ruled. But in September 2009, Pakistani authorities placed him under house arrest, again.
With an aim to restore Islam on India, the LeT released a pamphlet entitled "Why are we waging Jihad?". The group declared India, Israel and the US as existential enemies of Islam. The group also believes that militant forms of jihad are "absolutely obligatory" both in self-defence and in response to what they believe to be injustice or oppression towards Muslims the world over.
Saeed is banned from entering Islamabad, but on March 27, 2012 he defiantly addressed a rally organised by an umbrella group of Islamic groups near the Pakistan Parliament. He urged Pakistan not to open supply routes for NATO and US convoys, following the November 27, 2011 US air strikes, that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border.
Saeed's son Talha looks after the Lashkar's affairs at its base camp in Muzzaffarabad. Saeed's brother-in-law Hafiz Makki is the No. 2 in the JuD in Murdike.
The United States has placed Saeed among its top five most wanted terrorists, carrying a bounty of $10 million. Saeed snubbed the move stating, "the movement that we have organised after the formation of Defence of Pakistan Council is becoming very effective and it is impacting Parliament's decision about NATO supplies and this factor is disturbing for America and that is why they have announced a bounty on me," he told AFP.
"We are not hiding in caves for bounties to be set on finding us."
First Published: Apr 04, 2012 22:04 IST