Pakistan Releases Cleric Behind 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks

Pakistani police officials escort the head of the Jamaat-ud Dawa organisation Hafiz Saeed as he arrives at a court in Lahore

India is outraged that a self-confessed and United Nations -proscribed terrorist has been allowed to walk free, the External Affairs Ministry said on November 23 reacting to Hafiz Saeed's release from detention. In April 2012, the U.S. announced a bounty of $10 million on Saeed, for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 164 civilians, including six occupants of the local Chabad House, among whom were Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the latter five months pregnant.

India had expressed outrage over the decision of the judicial board to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Pakistan to mainstream proscribed terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors.

India has criticized Pakistan for not convicting him even though the militant group he founded led the Mumbai attacks.

The Lahore High Court's justice review body rejected a government request to renew his detention for another 90 days Wednesday.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief is set to walk free on Thursday after being put under house arrest in January. "Instead this act was staged by the Indian intelligence service so India could afterwards tighten its anti-terror laws".

The release of Hafiz Saeed following midnight came ahead of the 9 anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai in which 166 lost their lives. He is also quoted as saying, "There can not be any peace while India remains intact".

Saeed said JuD is a Islamic welfare organisation.

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India's Ministry of External Affairs condemned Saeed's release, saying it showed Pakistan was not serious about prosecuting terrorists.

Saeed, whose supporters celebrated his release, was expected to deliver a sermon at a mosque in Lahore during Friday prayers amid tight security. "This is victory of Pakistan's freedom and God willing Kashmir will also be freed because I'm fighting Kashmir's case", Saeed added.

Saeed and his four aides had been under house arrest since January under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

"It astounds me that we keep giving Pakistan money - military and foreign aid - and they're a haven for terror groups from the Taliban to LeT".

The U.S. has also made several overtures to India for closer ties.

"It's because of Kashmir that India is after me, but all her efforts have been in vain and Allah has set me free". Pakistan's Punjab government however had sought a three-month extension in his detention saying that the country may face global sanctions if the JuD was released from house arrest.

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