Washington, Feb 7 (IANS) Despite a $10 million US bounty on his head, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, whose group attacked Mumbai in 2008, lives openly in Pakistan, the New York Times said Thursday.
"I move about like an ordinary person - that's my style," Saeed told the Times in an interview at his home in Lahore.
"My fate is in the hands of God, not America," he was quoted as saying by the influential US daily.
"Saeed's very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty," the Times said citing unnamed analysts.
At his Lahore compound - a fortified house, office and mosque - Saeed is shielded not only by his supporters wielding Kalashnikovs outside his door, but also by the Pakistani state, the Times said.
Saeed has over the past year addressed large public meetings and appeared on prime-time television, and now even gives interviews to Western news media outlets he previously eschewed.
"The militant struggle helped grab the world's attention," he told the Times. "But now the political movement is stronger, and it should be at the forefront of the struggle."
Pakistan's generals insist they have abandoned their dalliance with jehadi proxy groups, the daily said. "But for all that, there is ample evidence that parts of the military remain wedded to jehadi proxies.
"And Saeed's freedom to roam around Lahore - and, indeed, across Pakistan - suggests some generals still believe the 'good' jehadis are worth having around," it said
Western intelligence officials cited by the Times said Lashkar's training camps in northern Pakistan have not been shut down.
One of those camps was the training ground of David Headley, a Pakistani-American citizen recently sentenced to 35 years in jail by a Chicago court for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attack.