The US Treasury Department has added eight Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leaders to the list of specially designated nationals. “Today’s action against LeT is Treasury’s most comprehensive to date against this group and includes individuals participating in all aspects of LeT’s operations – from commanders planning attacks to those managing LeT’s relationships with other terrorist groups,” David S. Cohen, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
The LeT terrorists designated by Treasury include Sajid Mir, the “project manager” responsible for coordinating the November 2008 siege of Mumbai. Mir’s phone conversations with the Mumbai attackers were intercepted by authorities. Mir has been identified as a former senior figure in Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment.
Mir was profiled by Sebastian Rotella in a study published by ProPublica. Rotella reported that Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a French judge who has conducted extensive counterterrorism investigations, concluded “that Sajid Mir was a high-ranking officer in the Pakistani Army and apparently also was in the ISI.” Mir achieved the rank of major before leaving the Pakistani Army for some unknown reason.
Mir’s reach has extended into the US. Treasury found that Mir recruited four LeT operatives in Virginia and “cleared them for LeT’s militant training, and directed them to monitor and research US target sites.”
Also designated by the Treasury Department today was Talha Saeed, the son of LeT founder and chieftain Hafiz Saeed. In April, the US government issued a reward of $10 million for information leading to the capture of the elder Saeed.
Hafiz Saeed was close to Osama bin Laden, and documents recovered in the al Qaeda master’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound reportedly show that the two kept in touch until shortly before bin Laden’s demise in May 2011. The documents also show that bin Laden may have reviewed surveillance reports prepared by LeT operative David Headley in anticipation of the attack on Mumbai. Headley subsequently pled guilty to terrorism charges in a US court. Sajid Mir was one of the LeT facilitators who handled Headley.
The other LeT leaders designated by Treasury are: Amir Hamza, a LeT propagandist; Abdullah Mujahid, LeT’s “senior paramilitary commander for Afghanistan” since 2008; Abdullah Muntazir, who also works for LeT’s media and propaganda wing; Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, who leads LeT’s clerics; Hafiz Khalid Walid, a top LeT political official; and Ahmed Yaqub, who is listed by Agence France Presse as LeT’s “chief for Bangladesh and Nepal operations.”
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.