Tuesday, April 3, 2012

US fronts $10 million dollar reward for Pakistani terrorist

Robert Tilford

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed founded the violent extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which in the 1990s sent Islamist militants to fight Indian troops in Kashmir, and is blamed by US and Indian officials for organizing the 2008 attacks on tourists and commuters in India's commercial capital. As such the US has offered a $10m (£6m) reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Pakistani radical blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, in which 166 people were killed.

The move is seen as a affront to Pakistan's security establishment, which has a close relationship with Saeed.

The US state department's Rewards for Justice program also announced a lesser reward of $2m reward for Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Saeed's brother-in-law and the group's second-in-command.

The rewards were announced by Wendy Sherman, US under secretary of state for political affairs, in a meeting with the Indian foreign secretary, Ranjan Mathai, on Monday in a move that is sure to upset officials in Paksitan.


Sherman is visiting India to broker support for US sanctions against the nation of Iran – India is a significant customer for Tehran's oil so the move to comply with US wishes will cost India in the form of higher oil and gas prices. The Indian ministry of external affairs said Delhi "sincerely appreciated" the move against Saeed, that could greatly complicate already fraught US relations with Pakistan.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Saeed said the US move came after he organized rallies against the reopening of military supply lines through Pakistan to US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

He denied having links to the Mumbai attacks.

"We are not hiding in caves for bounties to be set on finding us. I think the US is frustrated because we are taking out countrywide protests against the resumption of NATO supplies and drone strikes," he said.

"I believe either the US has very little knowledge and is basing its decisions on wrong information being provided by India or they are just frustrated."

Muhammad Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman for Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the political wing of LeT, which stands for Laskar e- Tibia said the announcement was "an onslaught on Islam and Muslims".

He told the Guardian newspaper : "The world knows that Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki … are the mainstream religious and political leaders of the country.

"The US, on behalf of India, has started this kind of propaganda against the nation's mainstream leaders. The latest American tactics will not create any trouble for Hafiz Saeed but it will definitely shock billions of Muslims and give impetus to anti-American sentiments."

Delhi has sent dossiers containing what officials say is "clear evidence" of Saeed's involvement in the Mumbai attacks to both Islamabad and Washington has demanded that Pakistan shut down what it says are "safe havens" for militants. This is something Pakistan has refused to do.

Indian officials have been particularly concerned in recent months by the emergence of the Difa-e-Pakistan, or Pakistan Defence Council, a coalition of rightwing and religious parties that has organised large rallies addressed by prominent militants, including Saeed.

The $10m reward puts Saeed on par with Mullah Omar, the chief of the Afghan Taliban who ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

It also makes him twice as valuable as Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Afghan insurgent chief whose Haqqani network was accused of firing rockets at the US embassy in Kabul in September.

Only Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaida, commands a larger reward, with up to $25m offered for information leading to his arrest.

The fact that all are still at large highlights how multimillion-dollar incentives do not always have the desired effect. Though some attacks have been averted by paid-for information, it has been difficult to bribe members of radical groups.

The timing of the announcement, was approved by Hillary Clinton.

Relations between Pakistan and the US have been increasingly fraught after the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad last May, and the incident involving Raymond Davis, the CIA agent who shot and killed two men in Lahore in self defense, and the accidental killing by US forces in Afghanistan of 24 Pakistani troops at a frontier post last November, who it should be noted fired first on the US helicopters.

Cyril Almeida, a columnist for the Dawn newspaper, said the move against Saeed would be seen as "a sign of growing US irritation with Pakistan."

"If there is anything that upsets Pakistan it is squeezing it when it comes to jihadis who it does not consider to be very harmful to Pakistan's interests," he said.

"Hardliners will say you can't trust Americans, they are ultimately out to screw us by aligning with enemy one [India] and that is what we have always warned about."

But a US official insisted the reward against Saeed had been planned for a long time and there was nothing special about the timing in this case.

"The announcement was made now because now was when the announcement was ready," the official said.

US authorities have been under domestic pressure to act against LeT and its senior command following a series of trials in the US during which the organisation's role in the Mumbai attacks and other acts of violence became clear.

“Oddly the Indian government hasn’t had to front any money in the reward offer against this man”, says George Marshall of Charlotte, N.C. “It just strike me as strange that’s all”, he said.

Robert Tilford

Charlotte, N.C.

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  1. I have a better idea. Let's arrest the ones who did the 9-11 events, the intentional DH oil well blow out, and the Fukushima facility. I'll help for $50.00. It is the same small group for all three. I will require considerable assistance however. We will start in New York and end up in Crawford, Texas. Where is 41? let's not give them anymore rope.

    1. You nailed it, apeman! In fact, we should do a money bomb. Call it a Bounty Bomb...