Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, a founding member of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and a key conspirator in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, has been confirmed dead by the United Nations Security Council.

Bhuttavi died of cardiac arrest on May 29 while in Pakistani government’s custody in the Murdike city in Punjab Province, the UN said. He was serving a jail sentence in Pakistan.

Born in 1940, Bhuttavi was the deputy of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafeez Saeed, who played a key role in the group’s operational and fundraising activities, according to the UN. Saeed is also the leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, considered to be a front of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Bhuttavi had stepped in to manage the militant group’s daily operations at least twice when Saeed was detained. This includes the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008, which left at least 150 dead.

The UN described Bhuttavi as a “preeminent scholar” who instructed leaders and members of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawa and issued fatwas sanctioning their operations. He was responsible for their network of madrasas. He had also been in charge of establishing the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s administrative base in Lahore in 2002.

Bhuttavi “helped prepare the operatives for the November 2008 terrorist assault in Mumbai...by delivering lectures on the merits of martyrdom operations”, the global agency said.

Organisations associated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba in May last year had shared a video of Bhuttavi’s purported funeral at the militant group’s centre in Murdike, reported the Hindustan Times.

Bhuttavi was proscribed as a terrorist by the UN Security Council in 2012 for being associated with the Al-Qaeda and for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” by Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The UN has also confirmed that Saeed, who is wanted in India, is serving a 78-year prison sentence in Pakistan as a result of his conviction in 2019 on seven terror financing cases. In December, New Delhi had asked the Pakistani government to extradite Saeed to India to face trial. The Ministry of External Affairs said he is wanted in multiple cases.