The United States on Tuesday welcomed the arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi by Pakistani authorities on charges of terror financing but also called for his prosecution for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“We welcome Pakistan’s arrest of terrorist leader Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi as an important step in holding him responsible for his role in supporting terrorism and its financing,” the US state department’s bureau of South and Central Asian affairs said on Twitter.
“We will follow his prosecution & sentencing closely & urge that he be held accountable for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks,” it said.
Lakhvi, one of the alleged masterminds of the Mumbai attacks, was arrested by Pakistani authorities on January 2 on charges of involvement in terror financing, almost five years after he was freed on bail.
His whereabouts had not been known since he was released on bail from a jail in Rawalpindi in April 2015. However, it was widely believed he had continued playing a key role in directing the activities of LeT even while he was in prison after being arrested in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage.
Six US citizens were among the 166 people killed when a 10-member LeT team attacked Mumbai in November 2008.
A spokesperson for the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Pakistan’s Punjab province said in a statement that Lakhvi was arrested on charges of terrorism financing during an intelligence-based operation.
“He 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,” the spokesman said.
Lakhvi, who is also a UN-designated terrorist, will face trial in an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, the spokesperson said.
Last year, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was convicted in five separate cases of terror financing and given a jail term ranging from five years to fifteen-and-half years. These sentences will run concurrently.
Lakhvi’s arrest came weeks ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) planned reassessment of Pakistan’s efforts to counter terror financing. In October last year, the multilateral watchdog retained Pakistan in its “grey list” for failing to fully deliver on an action plan to fight terror financing, and gave the country time till February to address what it said were “very serious deficiencies”.