Pakistanis Thursday mocked US President Donald Trump’s claim that the alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind had been arrested “after a ten-year search” while he was actually in the public eye for much of the decade.
Hafiz Saeed, a firebrand cleric accused by Washington and New Delhi of being behind the 2008 attacks, was taken into custody on Wednesday, days ahead of a trip by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington for his first meeting with Trump.
“After a ten-year search, the so-called ‘mastermind’ of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan. Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
But Saeed, who heads the UN-designated terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and has a $10 million US bounty on his head, has never been missing.
Instead, when he has not been in the custody of the Pakistani authorities, he has courted the limelight, giving public speeches and televised interviews and even attempting to launch a political party to contest last year’s general election.
Among the wave of social media users pointing this out to Trump were journalists highlighting the easy access they have been given to Saeed over the years.
“It’s Hafiz Saeed. Not Jason Bourne,” tweeted Pakistani news anchor Amber Shamsi.
“I also interviewed Hafiz Muhammad Saeed for @AJEnglish back in 2015 at a JuD-run mosque and school in Islamabad. Did not take a lot of finding that time, either,” added Al Jazeera’s Islamabad-based correspondent Asad Hashim.
“Finding him was never an issue. He operated freely and was highly visible,” wrote Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, adding that Trump should “immediately fire whoever gave him the wrong information”.
The US Foreign Affairs Committee also hit back at the president, citing the eight times Saeed has been arrested — and released — by Pakistani authorities since 2001.
“Let’s hold the (applause) until he’s convicted,” tweeted the committee on its official account.
Saeed’s freedom to move around Pakistan has enraged India for years, with Delhi repeatedly calling for his prosecution over his alleged role in the 2008 attack that killed more than 160 people.
Many linked his latest detention to Khan’s visit with Trump. The pair are to meet in Washington on July 22.
Since taking office in 2017, Trump has frequently singled out Islamabad for failing to rein in extremists and being an unfaithful partner in the fight against militants.
“Hafiz Saeed was definitely not on the run when I met him at home in Lahore in 2013. His liberty, or lack of, is often a function of international pressure on Pakistan over its support for militancy,” tweeted New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh.
The move against Saeed also comes as Pakistan is facing a potential blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an anti-money-laundering monitor based in Paris — for failing to do enough to combat terror financing.
Two impeachment articles expected against President Trump: reports
Democrats are expected to announce on Tuesday two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, US media reported Monday evening, after laying out their case at a hearing against a president they branded a "clear and present danger" to national security.
The articles will focus on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, The Washington Post said, citing three official familiar with the matter.
It added that the full House of Representatives would vote on the articles next week, ahead of a trial in the Senate.
CNN said a third article on obstruction of justice was still being debated, and the network's sources cautioned that plans were still being finalized.
Ambassador McFaul ‘shocked’ Trump invited Sergey Lavrov back to the Oval Office: ‘What are they thinking?’
Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul repeatedly said he was shocked that President Donald Trump will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.
McFaul was interviewed Monday evening by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC "The Last Word," where he contrasted how Trump is treating the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin to the Ukrainian government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"Ambassador McFaul, I want to get your reaction to the Russian foreign minister meeting tomorrow at the White House, in the Oval Office, with President Trump," O'Donnell said. "That's his second time. President Zelinsky still hasn't gotten that meeting and Donald trump apparently, apparently may be voted articles of impeachment in committee this week because of his interactions with President Zelensky."
House Judiciary to vote on Thursday to impeach Donald Trump: report
Democrats are moving ahead with the impeachment of President Donald Trump following another day of testimony on Monday.
"House Democrats plan to unveil at least two articles of impeachment Tuesday, charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, according to multiple lawmakers and aides. The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles on Thursday, setting up a vote on the House floor next week to make Trump the third president in history to be impeached," Politico reported Monday evening.
"Democratic leaders plan to formally announce the articles at a press conference Tuesday morning. Judiciary Committee Democrats intend to meet ahead of the announcement and review the articles," Politico reported. "The decision to move forward with specific impeachment charges is the most significant move yet for the year-old Democratic House majority, a legacy-defining moment for Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sets up a Senate trial for Trump in early 2020."