Who Really is Hafiz Saeed?

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, born in Pakistan, is the leader of Pakistan-based charity group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). He is known to have founded Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – an armed group mostly fighting Indian soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region since 1990. The group was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in December 2001. In April 2008, the United States designated Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; similarly, the United Nations declared Jamaat-ud-Dawa a terrorist organization in December 2008.

Saeed, an Islamic studies teacher, went to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s for higher studies where he met Saudi leaders who were participating in the Afghan-Soviet Union war. With Abdullah Uzzam, a Palestinian scholar, he set up Jamaat-ud-Dawa wal-Irshad – a preaching and publishing group in the late 80s. This was around the same time that an armed rebellion against New Delhi’s rule began in Kashmir. Emboldened by the defeat of the Soviet Union and the Iranian revolution earlier, Kashmiri fighters and those who came from Afghanistan were sure that they would defeat another superpower – India.

In Saeed’s LeT, Indian soldiers found a formidable opponent. LeT brought new tactics of guerrilla warfare including the group’s trademark Fidayeen, or “life-daring” attacks in the disputed territory.In a 2010 interview to The Independent, Saeed, denied forming LeT, or that his charity group is a front for LeT. He calls it a “Propaganda of India”.

India issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Saeed for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Additionally, the United States Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated National under Executive Order 13224. Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations under UNSCR 1267 in December 2008.