Expert Q&A: Who is Hafiz Saeed and why the $10 million bounty?

The US has put a $10 million bounty on Pakistani extremist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. To understand more about Mr. Saeed, the Monitor put five questions to Stephen Tankel, professor at American University, non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of "Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba."

1. Who is Hafiz Muhammad Saeed?

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    In this 2011 file photo, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, attends a ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan. The United States has offered a $10 million bounty for the founder of the Pakistani militant group blamed for the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.
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"[Hafiz Muhammad] Saeed is the leader of Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD), a religious organization in Pakistan widely known to be the social welfare wing of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). LeT is considered to be among the most powerful and prolific militant organizations in South Asia. It rose to prominence fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir and is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks [which killed more than 160 people] than as well as a number of others against India.  Since roughly 2005, it has sent fighters to Afghanistan as well. 

From its founding through late 2001, [Mr.] Saeed openly led LeT and its social welfare wing, which used to go by another name. In advance of a pending ban on LeT its social welfare wing ostensibly split off and was renamed JuD. The group’s leaders claimed the two wings were entirely separate entities, but in reality LeT and JuD are still two sides of the same coin. Most experts agree Saeed remains the overall head of both.

There is debate about how hands-on a role he plays in LeT’s militant operations. My sense is that he plays a strategic role and has some input on important operational matters, but is not managing militant operations on a day-to-day basis."

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