NEW YORK: LeT chief and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, who has a 10 million dollar US bounty on his head, has said that he moves about like an “ordinary person” in Pakistan and his fate is not in the hands of America.
“I move about like an ordinary person, that’s my style,” he said in an interview to the New York Times.
“My fate is in the hands of God, not America,” said 64-year-old Saeed, whose compound in Lahore is a “fortified house, office and mosque”.
The New York Times report said Saeed is shielded not only by his supporters who wield “Kalashnikovs” outside his door but also by the Pakistani state.
Saeed, who has been addressing large public meetings and made prime-time television appearances, said he is now talking to Western news media outlets to correct “misperceptions”.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba chief claimed his name had been cleared by the Pakistani courts.
“Why does the US not respect our judicial system?” Saeed said, adding that he has nothing against Americans.
He recalled a visit he made to the US in 1994, during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston.
“At that time, I liked it,” Saeed said.
The report said Saeed’s freedom to roam around Lahore and across Pakistan “suggests some generals still believe the good jihadis are worth having around”.
According to the report, western intelligence officials say Lashkar’s training camps, where LeT operative David Headley received training, in northern Pakistan have not been shut down.
Headley was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a Chicago court last month for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that claimed 166 lives. –PTI