Pak puts 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed under protective custody

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed Pakistani authorities have put 26/11 mastermind and leader of terror outfit Jamaat ud-Dawa (JuD) Hafiz Muhammad Saeed under house arrest, ostensibly to save the terrorist from possible harm from a not-so-friendly US administration under President Donald Trump.

Saeed has been kept under house arrest at Qadisiyyah Mosque near Chouburji in Lahore, Pakistani newspaper Dunya News reported, adding that his terror outfit Jamaat ud-Dawa is also likely to be banned.

Reports said a large police team is camping at JuD headquarters and Saeed and five other JuD activists have been taken into custody.

Pakistan's action against Saeed - who is also a proclaimed terrorist around the world, except perhaps in China - and the other five comes after talk of Pakistan being put on the list of countries that would come under US visa curbs.

Saeed is wanted in India and the United States for his alleged role in masterminding the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that claimed 166 lives.

He even carries a bounty of $10 million (approx. Rs66 crore) on his head for his role in the attack.

Pakistan claims to have banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), but following the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2002, it re-emerged as Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD). The United States has designated the JuD as a front for the LeT.

Earlier, Pakistan's interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan claimed that JuD was under observation since 2010 and was a listed organisation by the United Nations Security Council.

JUD is a frontal organisation for Lashkar-e-Toiba, the mastermind in orchestrating the Mumbai terror attack and many other terror strikes in India. Despite overwhelming evidence to this, Sayeed has always claimed that JUD is a charitable organisation and is not involved in terrorism.

Saeed has often threatened India in his public sermons. Soon after India's surgical strikes on terror camps, Saeed had warned the Modi government to get ready to face a surgical strike from the Pakistan army. JUD has been banned twice in the past and Sayeed's arrest has come reportedly after tough talks between Pak envoy to US and White House.

This move may be a damage control measure to stop any drastic step by US President Donald Trump who is cracking down on radical Islamic terrorism and has temporarily banned travellers from seven Muslim majority countries.

White House sources have also indicated that Pakistan may be included in that list later.