Pakistani authorities have arrested an alleged leader of the militant group that was blamed for the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks in India.
An official with the Pakistani counterterrorism police, Shakil Ahmed, said on January 2 that Zaikur Rehman Lakhvi was taken into custody in the eastern city of Lahore on terrorism-financing charges.
Lakhvi is alleged to be a leader of Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed by the United States and India for the Mumbai siege in which at least 166 people, including Americans, were killed.
Lakhvi was detained days after the Mumbai attacks but released in 2015 by Pakistani courts.
Pakistani authorities allege that Lakhvi was running a medical dispensary in Lahore as a front for financing militant activities.
A UN Security Council sanctions committee said Lakhvi is LeT's chief of operations and accuses him of involvement in militant activity abroad, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya.
LeT is an Al-Qaeda-linked armed militant group that is fighting against Indian control in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir and was banned in 2002 after being linked to an attack on India's parliament.
LeT militants have also carried out attacks against Afghan and foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Indian and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan’s security establishment of aiding LeT, a claim Islamabad has denied.
Lakhvi was a prominent figure in Hafiz Muhammad Saeed's charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is believed to be a front for LeT.
Saeed, who has been designated a terrorist by the U.S. Justice Department and has a $10 million bounty on his head, is presently serving multiple jail terms in Pakistan after being convicted in several cases in recent months.
The Pakistani government has seized Saeed's extensive network of mosques, schools, seminaries, charities, and other assets in the country.
Lakhvi’s arrest comes as Pakistan faces potential punitive blacklisting by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization that underpins the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The organization, which has kept the country on its "gray list" since 2018, in October urged Islamabad to implement a set of guidelines by February next year.