LAHORE, January 8: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and was on Friday sentenced to 15 years in jail in a terror-financing case by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan’s Lahore. The 61-year-old Lakhvi, who was on bail since 2015 in the Mumbai attacks case, was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab province last Saturday.
“The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore convicted Lakhvi for commission of offences of terrorism financing in a case registered by the CTD for 15 years under different section of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997,” news agency PTI quoted a court official as saying after the hearing.
Judge Ejaz Ahmad Buttar sentenced Lakhvi, who pleaded before the court that he was “falsely implicated” in the case, to five years of rigorous imprisonment each on three counts with a fine of PKR 100,000 each on three counts. “In default of payment of fine, he will have to undergo an imprisonment of six months each on three counts. He has been sent to prison to serve the sentences,” the official said, according to PTI.
Lakhvi, a close relative of LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, had a central role in planning and executing the assault on Mumbai that killed 166 people and injured hundreds more in November 2008, according to Indian and US security officials.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Lakhvi:
- Lakhvi was born in Okara district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, the same district that was home to Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only one of the 10 terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks to be captured alive. In the 1990s, Lakhvi was a member of the Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, LeT’s parent body.
- Lakhvi worked at LeT’s main centre at Muridke near Lahore in the 1990s. Security officials say he was actively involved in fighting in Jammu and Kashmir and later planning the LeT’s operations in the state.
- Lakhvi was arrested about a week after the Mumbai attacks when Pakistani soldiers raided a LeT camp on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
- A few months later, he and six other men were charged with planning, financing and executing the assault on Mumbai. Indian and US security officials say telephone and VoIP intercepts showed Lakhvi was present in a LeT control room in Karachi from where the attackers received instructions.
- Despite being in prison from December 2008 to April 2015, Lakhvi continued to be the operations commander of the LeT. Lakhvi had unfettered access to mobile phones and the internet, allowing him to direct the day-to-day activities of militants. His youngest wife was allowed to stay with him in jail and he fathered a child sometime in 2010 as a result of these conjugal visits, according to Abu Jundal alias Zabiuddin Ansari, the Indian LeT operative deported from Saudi Arabia in 2012.
- Lakhvi had several rooms next to the jailer’s office in Adiala Jail and received about 100 visitors every day who could meet him without seeking permission from authorities. Former Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani refused to act on a request from US authorities to take away Lakhvi’s mobile phones.
- 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. Indian diplomats and security officials have in the past described the trial of Lakhvi and the six other suspects in a Pakistani anti-terrorism court as a farce.
- Lakhvi was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab province last Saturday on terror financing charges.
- Lakhvi 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, CTD has said.
- Lakhvi is also an UN-designated terrorist, in addition to belonging to proscribed organisation LeT.
(HT With agency inputs)