Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper is pictured in his office at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California December 10, 2015.
(photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on US President Donald Trump to take action against Pakistan for releasing Islamist Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 166 people, including a Chabad rabbi, his pregnant wife and four other Jews.
“The US should sanction Pakistan. Once again it proves it is no friend of America and no ally in the global struggle against terror,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of the center’s Global Social Action Agenda, in a statement released on Friday.
Saeed had been under house arrest since January.
A Pakistani court ordered him freed last week, and he preached on Friday at a mosque in the eastern city of Lahore.
Prior to January, he had been living freely in Pakistan for years. He has always denied playing a role in the Mumbai attacks.
The American Jewish Congress also expressed outrage at Saeed’s release. “The American Jewish Congress abhors the legitimization of deadly acts of terror by radical militant terrorist groups against innocent civilians.
Saeed’s house detention was itself insufficient punishment for such an atrocity and an inadequate deterrent to the ever multiplying list of radical Islamist groups and individuals looking to hijack our universal values of freedom and tolerance to spread their own hateful agendas,” the organization said in a statement.
The American Jewish Congress expressed hope that India and the US would continue to exert pressure on the Pakistani authorities to bring Saeed to justice and “to adopt a stronger stance in the fight against terrorist groups and ensure that radical Islamist groups have no role to play in the future of legitimate political life and dialogue in Pakistan.”
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Friday that Saeed’s organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including American citizens.
“The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes,” Nauert said in a statement.Reuters contributed to this report.