Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, who died following a heart attack in a Pakistani prison on Monday, helped prepare the November 2008 Mumbai attackers by delivering lectures on the merits of martyrdom


NEW DELHI: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, who helped prepare the terrorists who carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has died in a Pakistani prison while serving a sentence for terror financing.

Bhuttavi was designated as a terrorist by the United Nations security Council in 2012. He was arrested and charged with terror financing by Pakistan several years later and convicted along with LeT founder Hafiz Saeed’s brother-in-law Abdul Rahman Makki, in a terror financing case in August 2020. Bhuttavi was sentenced to 16-and-a-half-years.

The death of Bhuttavi, who also served as acting head of the LeT when the group’s founder Hafiz Saeed was detained by Pakistani authorities in 2002 and 2008, was announced by several organisations affiliated to the terror group late on Monday night.

The announcements said Bhuttavi died of a heart attack in a jail in Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Monday afternoon. LeT’s front organisations also issued a video purportedly showing the funeral of 78-year-old Bhuttavi that was held at the terror group’s ‘markaz’ or centre at Muridke, near Lahore, on Tuesday morning.

Indian intelligence officials too confirmed the death but said further details were not immediately available.

A total of 166 people, including nationals of several countries such as the US and the UK, were killed and dozens more injured as a 10-member LeT team targeted several locations in Mumbai over three days in November 2008. Pakistan arrested seven LeT members, including operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, for the attacks but there has been no progress in their trial.

When the US treasury department sanctioned Bhuttavi in September 2011, it said he had been responsible for fundraising, recruitment and indoctrination of LeT operatives for 20 years.

“Bhuttavi…helped prepare the operatives for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by delivering lectures on the merits of martyrdom. Bhuttavi has issued fatwas authorizing LeT/JuD’s militant operations, has instructed group leaders and members, and is responsible for LeT/JuD’s madrassah network,” the US treasury department said in a statement at the time, referring to the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), a front for LeT.

The United Nations Security Council designated Bhuttavi as a terrorist in 2012 for being associated with al-Qaeda for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” by LeT.

At the time, the Security Council described Bhuttavi as a founding member of LeT and deputy to Hafiz Saeed.

“Bhuttavi has served as the acting emir of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa (LeT/JuD) on at least two occasions when Saeed has been detained. Saeed was detained days after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks and held until June 2009. Bhuttavi handled the group’s day-to-day functions during this period, and made independent decisions on behalf of the organization. Saeed was also detained in May 2002,” the Security Council notification said.