LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi arrested on charges of terror financing

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was arrested by Pakistani authorities on Saturday on charges of involvement in terror financing, almost five years after he was freed on bail.

Lakhvi’s whereabouts had not been known since he was released on bail from a jail in Rawalpindi in April 2015. However, it was widely believed that he had continued playing a key role in directing the activities of the LeT even while he was in prison after being arrested in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage.

A spokesperson for the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Pakistan’s Punjab province said in a statement that Lakhvi was arrested on charges of terrorism financing during an intelligence-based operation conducted by the department.

“Today, on 2 January 2021, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was arrested in a case of terrorism financing registered by the CTD Punjab in Police Station CTD Lahore,” the spokesperson said.

“He is accused of running a dispensary [and] 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 spokesperson added.

Lakhvi, who is also a UN-designated terrorist, will face trial in an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, the spokesperson said.

There was no immediate reaction to the arrest from Indian officials. A person familiar with developments noted, however, that Lakhvi was arrested on terror financing charges and that there had been little progress in efforts to prosecute him for his suspected role in the Mumbai attacks.

Lakhvi was one of seven men arrested in the wake of the Mumbai attacks for allegedly helping plan, support and finance the terrorist assault on India’s financial hub that killed 166 people.

The arrest came weeks ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) planned reassessment of Pakistan’s efforts to counter terror financing. In October last year, the multilateral watchdog retained Pakistan in its “grey list” for failing to fully deliver on an action plan to fight terror financing, and gave the country time till February to address what it said were “very serious deficiencies”.

Last month, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was convicted for the fifth time on terror financing charges and given a jail term of fifteen-and-half years.

In November last year, Saeed was given two separate five-year prison terms under provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act for using and providing funds for acts of terrorism in two cases of terror financing. He was also given a six-month prison term for being a member of a banned group.

Saeed was also given two sentences of five-and-a-half-years in February 2020. The sentences will run concurrently.

While Lakhvi was in prison following his arrest in December 2008 for the Mumbai attacks, he spent his time at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail in “relative luxury”, according to a BBC report. He had separate rooms, access to a television, mobile phones and the internet, and received guests on all days. He also fathered a child while he was in prison.

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