Though many hold him responsible for the deaths of hundreds, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed has yet to be brought to justice.
For Divya Salaskar, the 23-year-old daughter of a police officer slain during the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, this week has brought renewed hope that justice will be served.
On Monday (April 2nd), the United States announced a $10m reward for Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the head of the Jamaat-ul-Dawa charity – widely seen as a front for the banned terror group Lashkar e Taiba (LeT), which carried out the Mumbai attacks.
"There is every possibility that Hafiz Saeed, who was personally responsible for the massacre of 166 people, will be killed by somebody out for the $10 million reward. Or he may be forced to stand trial," she told Khabar South Asia over phone from Mumbai. "Either way, I am certain that justice is round the corner."
Divya, who works for the sales tax department of the Maharashtra state government, said it is a source of pain for the victims' families that Saeed continues to enjoy impunity.
"The pain in my heart and also the hearts of the dear ones of all the victims increased manifold every time we saw on TV how this cruel man Saeed was walking about freely and giving press interviews," she said.
Her father, Vijay Salaskar, was among the scores who died as terrorists carried out co-ordinated attacks spanning a four-day period starting on November 26th, 2008. Targets included the crowded Chhatrapati Shivali Terminus – one of India's busiest railway stations – as well as two hotels, a hospital and a Jewish centre. Over 300 people were injured.
The US move, announced in New Delhi by visiting Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, effectively places Saeed in the same category as Taliban chief Mullah Omar, who also carries a $10m reward under the Rewards for Justice programme.
Only one terror suspect worldwide – al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri -- carries a larger reward -- $25m.
External affairs minister S.M. Krishna said the move "reflects the commitment of India and the United States to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice and continuing efforts to combat terrorism."
"It also sends a strong signal to LeT as well as its members and patrons that the international community remains united in combating terrorism," he added.
The origins of LeT remain shrouded. According to former diplomat G. Parthasarathy, it was formed as far back in 1990 as Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The Indian government alleges its involvement in numerous acts of terrorism, particularly in the disputed state of Kashmir.
LeT was placed on the Terrorism Exclusion List in December 2001, just days ahead of an attack against the Parliament building in New Delhi. After the incident, Washington included it in the Foreign Terrorist Organisations list. The group was proscribed by the United Nations in May 2005.
Though Pakistan banned LeT in January 2002, its government has yet to prosecute Saeed successfully in a court of law. He was first arrested in late December 2001 for his suspected role in the Parliament attack. But though he was placed under "house arrest" on this and two more occasions following terrorist strikes on Indian soil, he always ended up exonerated.
On October 12th, 2009 the Lahore high court cleared him as well as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity of all charges. This happened within weeks of India serving a formal extradition request with Pakistan for his role in the Mumbai attack.
Interviewed by Al-Jazeera TV channel just hours after Monday's announcement, Saeed denied he is a terrorist.
"I'm innocent and am willing to defend myself in an international court. I'm not hiding in a cave but meeting hundreds of people each day."
Indian Home Affairs Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, however, said his links to violent extremism has been clearly established. "We've shared enough information with Pakistan on how Hafiz Saeed masterminded the Mumbai terror attacks," he said.
Apart from the $10m offered for Saeed, the US Justice Department also posted on its website overnight an additional reward of $2m for information leading to the capture of Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki. He is the brother-in-law of the LeT leader and believed to be number two in the LeT organisation.