Pakistan militant group founder offers US storm aid

AFP , Tuesday 30 Oct 2012

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of a Pakistan-based Islamist group under $10 million US bounty offers humanitarian aid to US in wake of hurricane Sandy

Saeed new
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed (Photo: AP)

The founder of a Pakistan-based Islamist group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, who is under a $10 million US bounty, Tuesday offered humanitarian aid to the United States as it battles superstorm Sandy.

Sandy hammered the eastern United States early Tuesday, flooding much of New York City, hitting several states with heavy winds and torrential rain and leaving at least 14 people dead.

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant outfit and now head of the charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), said his organisation was ready to offer every possible help to the storm-hit American people.

"Jamaat-ud-Dawa is ready to send its volunteers, doctors, food, medicines and other relief items on humanitarian grounds if the US government allows us," Saeed said in a statement.

"America may have any opinion about us, it may fix bounties on our heads but as followers of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, we feel it is our Islamic duty to help Americans trapped in a catastrophe."

Saeed's statement said the charity had carried out relief work in Indonesia and Sri Lanka after the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004.

JuD is seen as a front for LeT, which Washington and Delhi blame for the commando-style attacks on India's financial capital in 2008 that killed 166 people.

In April the United States offered $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Saeed, who lives openly in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore.

Saeed's charity has long denied terror accusations and is known around Pakistan for its relief work in the wake of the devastating Kashmir earthquake of 2005 and the floods of 2010, which were the worst in the country's history.

He was put under house arrest a month after the Mumbai attacks, but was released in 2009 and in 2010 as Pakistan's highest court upheld his release on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to detain him.

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