Pakistan frees 'mastermind' blamed for Mumbai attacks

Hafiz Saeed is accused of masterminding the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai when 166 people were killed in a three-day violent rampage. Now, he is being freed from house arrest in Pakistan and even looking to a potential future in politics.

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN AND MUMBAI, INDIA (REUTERS) - India calls him a terrorist mastermind, the United States has a US$10 million (S$13.4 million) bounty on his head.

But Hafiz Saeed will soon be walking free from house arrest in Pakistan.

The notorious Islamist is accused of organising the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

He has been under house arrest since January, but a court on Wednesday (Nov 22) ruled against a government request to extend his confinement, saying there was no evidence directly linking him to the attacks.

"Hafiz Saeed has always worked for Pakistan, and for the betterment of the people of Pakistan. During all this period, not a single act has been proven against him," lawyer for Islamic Charity Leader Hafiz Saeed, A. K. Dogar said.

Not only is Saeed set to walk free, but he may also be headed straight for politics.

He controls the the Milli Muslim League, a brand-new political party launched by an Islamist charity that the US accuses of being nothing more than a front for terrorism.

So far, the MML has not won any big victories, but it has the support of the country's powerful military.

Top brass have been pushing a plan to bring extremists into the mainstream in the hope that they'll reduce militant activity.

Saeed insists he was not involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks when 10 gunmen went on a three-day killing spree at luxury hotels, a train station and a Jewish Center, bringing the nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war.