During a Friday sermon in Lahore, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the emir of the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba who is wanted by the US and protected by Pakistan, called on Muslims to wage jihad against America. Saeed’s speech took place the same day a Pakistani intelligence official claimed that Saeed was involved in a de-radicalization program.
Saeed called on Pakistanis and Muslims to join with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, to fight the US to preserve Pakistan and Islam, AFP reported. Saeed gave the speech at the Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia, a mosque run by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. A collection box for donations for jihad was placed at the exits of the mosque. He was accompanied by armed guards who were “carrying weapons with silencers,” the news agency reported.
“Come to us,” Saeed said, calling on Muslims to join Lashkar-e-Taiba. “We will teach you the meaning of jihad…. The time to fight has come.”
“This is the same jihad which caused the USSR to break [in Afghanistan] and now America is failing because of it. Analysts and journalists don’t realise why America is failing, the only reason is jihad,” he continued. According to the AFP report, he also accused the Western press of being biased against Muslims and jihad.
Saeed said the US targets Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa because the group wages jihad and because the US fears Saeed. The US put out a $10 million bounty for information leading to Saeed’s arrest and prosecution just days ago.
“There are many parties in Pakistan, but America has only sent a message to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, because we do jihad,” Saeed said. “They [US] are even scared of my name.”
Saeed also implied that his terror organization is involved in attacking US forces in Afghanistan.
“America should leave Pakistan and Afghanistan peacefully. Then, we will not come to you with guns but will instead invite you to Islam,” he said. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is known to send fighters in Afghanistan to attack NATO and Afghan forces. In 2010, the US military noted that Lashkar-e-Taiba was working with the Taliban in Nangarhar province.
Saeed’s inflammatory sermon was delivered the same day a Pakistani intelligence official and a police official both claimed that Saeed was involved with “de-radicalization and rehabilitation of former jihadis” in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“Jamaat-ud-Dawa were consulted, and they approved the de-radicalization plan. They assured us of their intellectual input and resource materials. They also offered teachers,” a Punjab police official told Reuters.
Saeed’s terror organization has been directly linked to numerous terror attacks in South Asia, including the November 2008 terror assault on the Indian city of Mumbai that resulted in the deaths of 165 people. The US and Indian governments have accused Saeed and other Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives and leaders of plotting, financing, and executing the Mumbai attack. A former adviser to President Obama on Afghanistan and Pakistan recently stated that evidence seized at Osama bin Laden’s compound linked the slain al Qaeda emir to the Mumbai attack and Saeed. [See LWJ report, Osama bin Laden helped plan Mumbai attacks.]
Saeed, who formed the Lashkar-e-Taiba at the behest of Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden’s mentor and co-founder of al Qaeda, praised bin Laden after US Navy SEALs killed the al Qaeda emir at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.
“Osama bin Laden was a great person who awakened the Muslim world….. Martyrdoms are not losses, but are a matter of pride for Muslims,” Saeed proclaimed.
“Osama bin Laden has rendered great sacrifices for Islam and Muslims, and these will always be remembered,” Saeed continued, as his followers chanted “Down with America” and “Down with Obama.”
The Pakistani government has protected Saeed, despite his complicity in terror attacks. Saeed is favored not only by Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which provides Lashkar-e-Taiba with direct support, but also by a wide swath of Pakistani civil society. The Pakistani government has refused to arrest Saeed and has claimed the US and India have not provided evidence linking him to terror attacks.
For more information on Hafiz Saeed, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and its links to al Qaeda and other terror groups, see LWJ report, US offers $10 million bounty for capture of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.