The United States has offered a bounty of $10 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
Only three other terrorist leaders carry a U.S. bounty of $10 million on their head. They are the senior leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq Abu Du'a, one-eyed Taliban chief Mullah Omar and Yasin al-Suri alias Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a young al-Qaeda facilitator based in Iran.
Saeed now heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, widely seen as a front for LeT - which is blamed for the multiple terrorist attacks in the Western Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008.
Listing for Saeed on the U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice website refers him as a suspect in masterminding numerous terror strikes, including the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The U.S. has blacklisted both Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Toiba as terrorist outfits.
During his U.S. visit in 2009, India's Interior Minister P. Chidambaram had conveyed to the Obama Administration the country's concerns over security threats from Pakistan.
He said Hafiz Saeed was roaming free in Pakistani cities leading anti-India jihadi rallies despite evidence provided in six dossiers by New Delhi that he masterminded the Mumbai attacks.
Hafiz Saeed was included in a list of 50 "most wanted fugitives" that India handed over to Pakistan allegedly hiding in that country. India has issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Saeed for his role in the Mumbai terror attacks.
Pakistan government confined him to house arrest for less than six months after the Mumbai attacks, only to release him in 2009 on the orders of the Lahore High Court.
The 61-year-old Pakistani national with red hair and brown eyes was born in Sargodha in Punjab Province, according to Rewards for Justice.
It says Hafiz Saeed is a former Professor of Arabic and Engineering, as well as the founding member of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, "a radical Deobandi Islamist organization dedicated to installing Islamist rule over parts of India and Pakistan, and its military branch, Lashkar-e-Toiba."
The U.S. Treasury Department has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Terrorist.
The U.S. designated LeT as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in December 2001, while Jamaat-ud-Dawa was brought under the same category in April 2008. The United Nations declared Jamaat-ud-Dawa a terrorist organization in December 2008.
The U.S. has also offered a $2 million bounty for Saeed's brother-in-law and LeT co-founder Abdul Rahman Makki, who is described on the Rewards for Justice website as the "second in command" of the terrorist organization.
India welcomed announcement of the rewards. "It reflects the commitment of India and the United States to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice and continuing efforts to combat terrorism," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
by RTT Staff Writer
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