Maulana Abdullah Aziz, one of the two clerics who led the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, insurrection in Islamabad in 2007, looks to be beating the latest round of charges filed against him in Pakistani court. From The Express Tribune:
District courts acquitted the chief cleric of Lal Masjid in four of the 12 cases registered against him for crimes including challenging government writ by keeping illegal arms.
Judicial Magistrate Kashif Qayyum Sheikh acquitted Abdul Aziz in four cases which were registered against him at the Aabpara police station. The cases included delivering provocative speeches against former president Pervez Musharraf’s government, participation in the issuance of ‘fatwas’ against the military operation in the tribal areas, keeping illegal arms and kidnapping policemen.
While the status of the other eight charges against Aziz is unclear, it is a safe bet that that they’ll either be dismissed or dropped. Pakistani courts have an abysmal record in prosecuting terrorists like Aziz.
Aziz was released from prison in April 2009 after being captured while attempting to flee the Lal Masjid during a Pakistani military assault in July 2007. Two days after his release, he called for jihad and the nationwide implementation of sharia, or Islamic law, during his first sermon at the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque after his imprisonment. In September 2009, A Pakistani terrorism court dismissed charges against Aziz and called for him to be tried in civil court.
Aziz is one of several Teflon clerics in Pakistan who are able to dodge terrorism charges with ease. The most notable is Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The government has placed him under loose house arrest several times, only to have courts dismiss charges against him.
Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the pro-Taliban Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed (TNSM or the Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammed’s Law) who was a leader rebellion in the Swat Valley from 2007-2009, is facing charges for sedition, but there were rumors floating around last year that he may be released from prison and the charges against him may be dropped so the military can cut yet another peace deal with him.
Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the spiritual leader of the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI, or the Movement of Islamic Holy War), was released in early December 2010 after being taken into protective custody in August 2010. HUJI is closely linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Jaish-e-Mohammed emir Masood Azhar was briefly detained after the November 2008 suicide assault in Mumbai, India, but was quietly freed from custody shortly afterward. JeM also is closely linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
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