Multan, May 29 (Reuters): Pakistani police said they had arrested a prominent Islamic militant today who trained thousands of fighters in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule.
Abdul Hayee, alias Asadullah, was identified as the head of a splinter group of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been linked to the 2002 murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl and a Karachi car bombing that same year that killed 14, including 11 Frenchmen. Police said he was arrested in Muzaffargarh town, about 25 km west of central city of Multan.
“He had imparted militant training to some 2,000 people including Pakistanis, Arabs and others,” Salman Chaudhry, police chief of Muzaffargarh, said.
“He was the mastermind of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” he added.
Sunni Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had close ties with the Taliban, ousted from power by the US military in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Authorities said it also forged links in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda militant network, blamed for the September 11 attacks.
Washington listed the group as a foreign terrorist organisation following a string of attacks on the Western and Christian targets in Pakistan.
It was also blamed for the murder of 17 Christians in October 2001 and dozens of deadly attacks on the minority Shi'ite community in mid-1990s.
President Pervez Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, outlawed the group in August 2001.