Is Hafiz Saeed ‘de-radicalising’ militants?

Hafiz Saeed speaking at rally

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The headline has been repeated so often and in every newspaper that it is hard not to escape it. ‘Hafiz Saeed helping de-radicalise militants’, the bold print reads. That this report comes just days after the US offered a whopping $10 million bounty for information that can be used to arrest the Jamaat ud Dawa chief is surely no coincidence. Despite the repeated headline, though, there appears to be more to the story than first meets the eye.

As with recent stories about Dana Rohrabacher supporting Baloch insurgents, reading past the sensationalist headline reveals important information. In the case of the story about Hafiz Saeed de-radicalising militants, there is an item buried in the report that should be noted.

“Yahya Mujahid, the JuD spokesman, said the group had not participated in the de-radicalisation programme.”

An unknown official claims that Hafiz Saeed is helping de-radicalise militants, and Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s spokesman says this is a lie. Which makes headlines? Why is the anonymous claim published in bold letters, while the official claim of JuD is given only one passing mention near the end of the report?

Obviously, we have no way of knowing whether the mysterious official or the JuD spokesman is telling the truth. As journalists, we might consider asking Hafiz Saeed himself, or at least looking at his public statements for some clue.

In a fiery Friday sermon, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”

The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security. Some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit and men asked for people exiting the mosque to give funds for jihad.

A popular propaganda technique is to repeat a lie so often that people accept that it is the truth. We have no way of knowing whether Hafiz Saeed is or is not helping de-radicalise militants. But Jamaat-ud-Dawa says they are doing no such thing, and Hafiz Saeed openly is raising funds for jihad. Maybe those are facts worth considering.

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