‘Mastermind’ behind Sri Lanka cricket team attack arrested

One of Pakistan’s most notorious suspected extremist leaders has been arrested in Lahore after returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, according to local police.

Malik Ishaq, leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is accused of inciting sectarian hatred and masterminding the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

The Sunni group was banned by former President Pervez Musharraf after being linked to the deaths of minority Shias.

However, Ishaq has cultivated a high profile addressing religious and political rallies since being released in 2011 after 14 years in prison, during which evidence against him crumbled away.

He was presented in court on Friday and remanded in custody for two weeks.
It is understood police are investigating provocative comments he allegedly made during a religious gathering earlier this month.

While in prison, he is suspected of having masterminded the attack on Sri Lanka’s team coach in Lahore, which wounded seven players and an assistant coach, and killed eight Pakistanis.

Critics accuse Pakistan of turning a blind eye to militant leaders either for fear of sparking a terrorist backlash if they are arrested, or because Islamabad continues to use sectarian groups as proxies in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Earlier this year, the US State Department offered a $10m reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Saeed continues to live in Lahore addressing followers during Friday prayers or at political rallies. (The Telegraph)