With more than a dozen nicknames and multiple assumed identities, Sajid Majeed Mir is the man India and the US wants.
Mir is the man who is alleged to be the chief planner during the Mumbai terror attacks, purportedly holding a Pakistani passport, has a red corner notice issued against him and carries a bounty of $5 million by the FBI to whosoever informing his whereabouts.
Beginning on November 26, 2008, and continuing through November 29, 2008, ten attackers trained by the Pakistan-based foreign terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) carried out a series of coordinated attacks against multiple targets in Mumbai, including hotels, cafes, and a train station, killing approximately 170 people and wounding more than 300, including deceased of 17 different nationalities.
According to the FBI, Mir not only was the chief planner during the attacks but also directed preparations and reconnaissance and was one of the Pakistan-based controllers during the attacks.
Mir is not only wanted by the American law enforcement agencies for his alleged involvement in the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai (India) killing 6 American nationals, he is also accused of conspiring to commit a terrorist attack against a newspaper and its employees in Denmark between 2008 and 2009. An arrest warrant was issued on April 22, 2011 by the FBI related to this incident.
The FBI believes that Mir might have altered his appearance through plastic surgery. While the Pakistani authorities had in the past claimed he had died, in the first week of June this year, Mir was sentenced to fifteen and a half years in jail after being convicted in a terror financing case.
A fine of PKR 420,000 was also imposed on him. It was after The Dawn reported that the world came to know about Mir’s silent conviction. The Dawn also reported that Mir was under detention, since the later part of April, but was kept away from media’s prying eyes. After the conviction by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, the news broke out through some official sources in Pakistan.
The Rise of Sajid Majeed Mir
The alleged brain behind 26/11 Mumbai attack, bombing operation at the Danish newspaper office of Jyllands Posten, Mir was also allegedly involved in the attacks on Australian nuclear and military installations and the ‘Virginia Paintball Jihad’ case, involving training LeT operatives at a paintball facility.
Mir hailed from a middle-class Punjabi family in Lahore, Pakistan. His father Abdul Majid was a partition refugee who established a small textile firm in Lahore.
Mir is said to be fluent in Arabic, Urdu and English. Mir’s association with LeT and its founder Hafiz Saeed dates back to the year 1994, when Mir was just 16 years of age. Later, he went on to join the terrorist organization’s international operations wing.
Mir had received training from Ilyas Kashmiri, an ISI-run militant al-Qaeda-related commander, who was reportedly killed in an American drone strike in 2011.
Mir was widely considered the ‘project manager’ of the Mumbai attacks and had reportedly visited India in 2005 using a fake passport.
Being LeT’s main handler of David Coleman Headley, Mir allegedly rendered financial and logistic support to Headley for conducting surveillance of the targets for the Mumbai attacks, training and briefing the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks.
Experts allege that during the ongoing Mumbai attacks Mir was present in the LeT control room in Karachi. The Government of India has also asked for his voice samples from the Government of Pakistan to prove the same.
Being an accused in NIA pertaining to conspiracy to target important locations in India, Sajid Majeed Mir is said to have close links with LeT operation commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
Later in 2009, Mir collaborated with Headley on an aborted plan to attack a newspaper office in Copenhagen.
Turning into a government witness for 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, David Coleman Headley in federal court of Chicago on May 23, 2011, after pleading guilty to clicking photos and videos of targets in Mumbai, accepted that due to international pressure in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the highly motivated plan to attack the Danish newspaper in retaliation to the publication of a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed was aborted.
Wanted By India, Saved By China
Beijing, considered as an all-season friend of Islamabad, has repeatedly put hold on global terrorist listings backed by India to blacklist Pakistan-based terrorists under the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council this month. China blocked the joint India-U.S. proposal to put Sajid Mir’s name on the UN Security Council’s 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee list this September.
This was the third time China have blocked India’s proposal to enlist a global terrorist. Prior to Sajid Mir’s enlisting proposal, China previously has also blocked names of Abdul Rehman Makki, an LeT investor related to Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed and another terrorist Abdul Rauf, brother of JeM founder Maulana Masood Azhar, who was involved in the 1999 IC-814 hijack.
Interestingly, both China and Pakistan, being members, attended the Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO) which witnessed a detailed discussion on terrorism.
China’s move came the day after the Summit. This has raised concerns in the international community and among organizations fighting in contravention of global terrorism.
China is believed to be blocking India’s attempts further in the future as well.
Indian officials have seen China’s moves as a double-standard on its professed commitment to tackle terrorism, as well as a reflection of how increasingly close China-Pakistan ties are weighing on Beijing’s foreign policy.
Akansha Deshmukh is an Independent Investigative Journalist covering serious crime, cyberspace, terrorism and political corruption.
Views are personal and do not necessarily reflect that of Qrius.