Curious case of Pakistan's Sajid Mir, mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks

Updated on Jun 26, 2022 03:38 PM IST

This is the curious case of Sajid Mir, one of the masterminds of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, in 2008.

ANI | , Islamabad

"Wanted: Dead or Alive" is the usual demand in the world of crime anywhere. But the living is declared dead in Pakistan's world of criminals and terrorists. And if need be, the dead come alive, if the powerful are to be placated.

This is the curious case of Sajid Mir, one of the masterminds of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, in 2008. Declared "untraceable" and "dead" for a long time because India wanted him captured, tried and punished, he has "come alive", in a manner of speaking, and is quietly imprisoned for 15 years.

The reasons range from placating the United States to reaching out to India for talks and trade. But the immediate intended gain is convincing the fact-finding team of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that is expected to make an on-site visit to Pakistan.

The FATF, it may be recalled, at its last conference in Berlin (June 17-18), resolved to take Pakistan off its "under watch" list, popularly known as the "grey" list, since it had fulfilled most, though not all, requirements of enacting laws and taking executive actions to eliminate money-laundering and promoting terror financing through its agencies and banking institutions.It is but tentative.

Hence, after initial rejoicing, when everyone fell over each other in taking credit, the sober mood called for clearing all tracks before the arrival of the visiting FATF team.

This is why, and how, Sajid Majeed Mir has surfaced. Before proceeding further it is interesting to note three recalls of the recent past.

Osama Bin Laden was "probably dead, and definitely not in Pakistan", according to the now ailing and exiled military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf.He would ridicule any talk of Pakistan hiding Osama.

Till, long after he was out of office and under house arrest in 2011, when the US Seals, the Special Forces' commandos, located him in a hideout in Abbottabad and eliminated him.

When asked, he sang the "sovereignty" song -- its violation by the US.Baitullah Mehsud of the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) backed the assassin who killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. He was declared "untraceable", even "dead" in an encounter. But he surfaced in 2018 to deny any involvement.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, another TTP leader and spokesman was behind the shooting of Malala Yusuf, the little girl who survived being flown to Britain. She eventually became the world's youngest Nobel Laureate. Ehsanullah even baited Malala to "return to Pakistan once.

"Under prosecution, Ehsan escaped, and then surrendered following an "understanding" reached with one of the Pakistani intelligence outfits. When this did not succeed, he escaped again, simply took a flight along with the family, and fled to Turkey.Sajid Mir has now "come alive" and is in jail. An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan awarded over 15 years jail term in a terror-financing case to Mir.

"An anti-terrorism court in Lahore early this month had handed down over 15 years jail term to Sajid Majeed Mir, an activist of banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), on a terror-financing case," a senior lawyer associated with terror financing cases of LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa leaders said on June 24, 2022.

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police, which often issues convictions of the suspects in such cases to the media, did not notify Mir's conviction in a terror-financing case. Besides, since it was an in-camera proceeding at the jail, the media was not allowed.

The lawyer further said convict Mir, who is in his mid-40s, has been in the Kot Lakhpat jail since his arrest this April. He said the court also imposed a fine of over PKR 400,000 on Mir. Pakistan told the FATF at the Berlin conference that it had arrested and prosecuted Sajid Mir to facilitate removal from the FATF 'Grey list'.Sajid Mir has a bounty of USD 5 Million.

He was called "project manager" of the Mumbai attacks. He had reportedly visited India in 2005 using a fake passport with a fake name. Mumbai terror attacks alleged mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed has already been sentenced to 68 years imprisonment in terror financing cases by the Lahore Anti Terrorism Court (ATC).

Mumbai attack "operation commander" Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is also convicted to several years in jail. Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist on whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty, was arrested in July 2019 in the terror financing cases.The jail sentence of Mir, after Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi, comes as part of the plan to placate FATF.

The arrest of Sajid Mir also has a diplomatic angle. The new government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is keen on mending fences damaged by its predecessor Imran Khan Government. The targets are the United States and up to a point, India, ostensibly, under American persuasion.

The Sharif government is playing up to Washington, in contrast to Imran Khan's anti-US campaign that has intensified after being voted out of power. Reports are that Islamabad wants to facilitate the US presence in Afghanistan that the latter had to quit last August when the Taliban seized power.

Islamabad began by sending ISI chief, Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum to Washington. After the stage was set, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Foreign Minister in the Sharif Government, was in the US and soon after, Bilawal began advocating the resumption of the ties with India, gone "cold" in the last two years.

He talked of ties with India being of mutual interest, even in Pakistan's interest, but stopped short of doing anything concrete, even resuming bilateral trade that he thinks would benefit Pakistan more. Mir's surfacing and imprisonment are to impress India, of good intent of the Sharif Government.

But only words have come forth.Pakistan has acted this way in the past as well, under Washington's persuasion.In this game wherein wheels-within-wheels move, it may be safe to surmise that the next gesture from Bilawal to India may come once Washington helps clear the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan that Pakistan urgently requires.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • File photo of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

    PM Sheikh Hasina to Hindu community in Bangladesh: You and I have same rights

    According to a report in the Dhaka Tribune newspaper, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “We want people of all faiths to live with equal rights. You are people of this country, you have equal rights here, you have the same rights as I have.” “You would always think that you are the citizens of this country and you will enjoy equal rights,” the premier said.

  • Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen 

    'Indescribable' pressure: Taiwan thanks Navy amid China tensions

    Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has visited sailors in the island's navy to thank them for their efforts amid days of war games and military drills by China, calling the pressure they had faced "indescribable". China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has been staging such exercises this month to show its anger at the visit to Taipei of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    ‘Cannot justify what happened’: Ex-Pak PM Imran Khan on attack on Salman Rushdie

    Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the attack on British author Salman Rushdie was “unjustifiable”. In 2012, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief had refused to attend a media conclave in New Delhi after learning about Rushdie's participation. He had reportedly said that he could not “think of participating in an event that included Rushdie - who had caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims across the globe.”

  • Contender to become UK's next Prime minister and leader of the Conservative party Britain's former Chancellor to the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks during a Conservative Party Hustings event in Belfast, on August 17, 2022. 

    UK PM candidate Sunak: Russia's Putin should be barred from G20

    Rishi Sunak, one of the two candidates vying to replace Boris Johnson as British prime minister, has called on the G20 to bar Russian President Vladimir Putin from its meetings until Moscow halts the war in Ukraine, his spokesman said on Friday. Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will attend the G20 summit on the resort island of Bali this November, a longtime adviser to the Indonesian president said earlier.

  • (Representational Image)

    Gandhi statue outside Hindu temple vandalised in New York

    In a possible hate crime, unidentified persons have destroyed a handcrafted statue of Mahatma Gandhi with a sledgehammer at a Hindu temple here after vandalising it earlier this month, media reports said on Friday. The founder of Shri Tulsi Mandir, Lakhram Maharaj, situated in South Richmond Hill discovered the Gandhi statue was reduced to rubble on Wednesday morning. The same Gandhi statue was vandalised two weeks ago, investigating officials said. The New York Police Department is investigating both incidents as possible hate crimes, media reports said.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, August 19, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now