Hafiz Mohamed Saeed, the founder of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and the suspected organizer of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, attracted some surprising international attention this week when the U.S. government announced a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture. The reward was unusual because Saeed is hardly in hiding -- he lives in a well-known compound outside Lahore and frequently speaks in public. The State Department later clarified that it was looking for information to aid in Saeed's future prosecution, not trying to determine his location, but Saeed still made the most of his 15 minutes in the spotlight, calling a press conference at which he dared U.S. authorities to apprehend him, saying, "I wish the Americans would give this reward money to me."
In February, the militant leader, who has been indicted in India for allegedly organizing the 2008 attacks, gave an interview with the Dubai-based pan-Arabic TV station Al Aan TV. In the following translated excerpt from that conversation, made available by the network to Foreign Policy, he discusses U.S. policies in Pakistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden:
Al Aan: Do you agree with the Pakistani government's policies regarding ties with India and the U.S., and Pakistan's foreign policy toward these countries?
Saeed: India is Pakistan's enemy and its sole agenda is to destabilize Pakistan. After the fall of Dhaka, it wants to dismember what remains of Pakistan in the same way. They [the United States and India] have ... organized separatist movements in Sindh and Balochistan, and established a huge terrorist network in Pakistan. I think the public and the whole world should be made aware of these things. The steps being taken for friendship between Pakistan and India and for starting trade with India by granting it most-favored nation [status] are also a conspiracy. India is the enemy of Pakistan and it will remain an enemy. Therefore, at this time, we should take measures to protect ourselves from its enmity.
As far as Pakistani-U.S. ties are concerned, we are against, from day one, the measures taken by Pakistan in favor of the U.S. Pakistan's soil should not be allowed to be used against Afghanistan. This was our principled stand from day one. But Pakistan's soil was used for this purpose. The U.S. used Pakistan's bases. Pakistan's roads, airspace, and sea routes were used by NATO and the U.S. For 10 years, they [the United States and NATO] fought a war in Afghanistan while sitting in Pakistan. They destroyed Pakistan. Pakistan was severely hit by suicide attacks and terrorism as the people living in Pakistan lost trust in each other and animosities deepened. After all these horrible realities, it is regrettable that the U.S. is blaming Pakistan.
Attempts are being made to sideline Pakistan in the ongoing talks between the U.S. and Mullah Omar. And all this is being done inside Pakistan. The steps that India used to take against Pakistan are now almost all being taken by the U.S. against Pakistan. Therefore, we should maintain ties [with other countries] only in the interest of Pakistan. It should be clear who is our friend and how much. And who is our enemy and how much.... It's not possible to maintain friendship with the U.S., who in return uses all of its weapons against us. It's very regrettable and painful.
Al Aan: Do you support the anti-U.S. war being fought inside Afghanistan?
Saeed: It is very clear that the war was imposed on Afghanistan. Therefore, we consider the struggle of Afghan nationals legitimate. They are fighting the war of freedom because the U.S. and NATO have illegally occupied Afghanistan. Afghan people have the complete right to struggle for the freedom of their country and oust the occupying forces....