October 10, 2019 / 4:50 PM / 3 days ago

Pakistan arrests four aides of alleged mastermind of Mumbai terror attacks

LAHORE (Reuters) - Pakistani authorities on Thursday arrested four aides of Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of a four-day militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, on terrorism financing charges, counter-terrorism police said.

Saeed, arrested on the same charges, has been on judicial remand since July, a move welcomed by U.S. President Donald Trump who wants Pakistan to do more to crack down on militancy.

But Saeed’s arrest came just ahead of a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Imran Khan and was seen by rival India as a ploy to smooth the way before a meeting with Trump.

Thursday’s arrests come ahead of a meeting next week of the Financial Action Task Force, a global watchdog, which will review progress made by Pakistan on controlling terror financing and money laundering.

Pakistan, included on a so-called grey list compiled by the FATF, has been under increasing pressure to stop the financing of militant groups.

The four aides will appear before a trial court on Friday, police said in a statement.

Saeed, designated a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations, is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, or Army of the Pure, the militant group blamed by the United States and India for the Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 160 people.

The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed’s conviction.

He has denied any involvement and said his network, which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services, has no ties to militant groups.

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie

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