Five witnesses testified against Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and his close aide Zafar Iqbal on Thursday for their involvement in terror financing before an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan. The anti-terrorism court Lahore indicted Saeed and his close aides - Hafiz Abdul Salam, Muhammad Ashraf and Iqbal - on terror financing charges on December 11.
"The five witnesses testified against Saeed and Iqbal for their involvement in terror financing," a court official told PTI after hearing. He said a legal team of Saeed and Iqbal comprising advocates Naseerudin Nayar and Imran Fazal Gill cross examined the witnesses. He said ATC-I Lahore Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta adjourned hearing till Friday and directed the prosecution to produce more witnesses.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police also produced the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief, Iqbal, Abdul Salam, Abdul Rehman Makki, Muhammad Ashraf and the JuD spokesperson Yahya Mujahid in another case in ATC-II. ATC-II Judge Muhammad Iqbal adjourned hearing till January 9 in that case.
Strict security measures were taken in and outside the court premises before the appearance of the top JuD leaders. Journalists were not allowed to enter the court premises to cover the proceedings because of security issues.
The defence counsel had already taken a stance denying allegations against the JuD leaders as baseless and a result of international pressure on Pakistan government.
The CTD had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province and arrested him on July 17. He is held at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
The US has also welcomed Saeed’s indictment, urging Islamabad to ensure a full prosecution and expeditious trial of the charges against him.
The indictment followed growing international pressure on Pakistan to stop militant groups from collecting funds in the country and to take immediate action against those still involved in militant activities.