Masood, 54, and Saeed, 62, are brothers. Their conspicuously different paths illustrate the often contradictory nature of Pakistan itself, a country that behaves like both friend and foe to its chief patron, the United States — frequently at the same time.
As much as Pakistanis are said to loathe U.S. policies, many eagerly seek opportunities for themselves and their children in the United States. Masood was one of them, spending 21 years in the Boston area.
Today he is the spokesman for the Lahore-based religious charity that his brother heads, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or Party of Truth. The United States calls it a terrorist front group tied to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai and has offered $10 million for evidence leading to Saeed’s arrest or conviction. Masood has denied the accusations.
Unlike his fiery-tongued brother, Masood displays a calm, good-humored nature. He has an easy command of American idioms, such as “one size fits all” and “this is a no-no.”
Masood returned to Pakistan only grudgingly, after pleading guilty in 2008 to visa-related violations. He left behind his comfortable job as an imam at the Islamic Center of New England, as well as his wife and eight children.
“Believe me, I love American life, and for many aspects,” Masood said contemplatively, sitting in a quiet room across the courtyard from the capacious two-level mosque where his elder brother delivers his rants against the United States, India and Israel. “People are very logical, they are very open, and I found the Islamic work very, very enjoyable in American society.”
The world knows much about Saeed and the other U.S.-designated terrorist group he founded: Lashkar-i-Taiba, or Army of the Pious. Officials say Lashkar-i-Taiba carried out the three-day attack in Mumbai — killing 166 people, including six Americans — and is responsible for several other deadly operations against India. The $10 million reward puts Saeed in the same top-tier terrorist category as fugitive Taliban chief Mohammad Omar.
Far fewer have heard of Masood, whose 15-year tenure at the Islamic center in Sharon, Mass., won him praise for outreach to other faiths. His supporters, including members of a local synagogue, said the immigration case stemmed from anti-Muslim bias.
“He was a positive influence on the community, and I didn’t think it made a whole lot of sense to deport him,” said Rabbi Barry Starr of Temple Israel in Sharon. “I found him to be a gentleman, a gentle person, a person of peace.”
In Masood’s view, the case against him represented classic guilt by association. “When they want to find something on you, they will,” he said with a hearty laugh.