Pakistanis yesterday 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 a Al Jazeera correspondent.