The United States is seeking information about Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), "that can be usable to convict him in a court of law."
This was stated by State Department deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner during a daily press briefing in Washington on Wednesday.
Saeed told a news conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Wednesday that he was neither a fugitive from American law nor a militant in hiding from authorities in Pakistan, after the United States announced a $10-million bounty on his head.
Terming the U.S. reward as "ridiculous and misguided," he suggested that it should be given to him as his whereabouts in Pakistan were well known. "I am here, I am visible, I will be in Lahore tomorrow. America can contact me whenever it wants to," Saeed said and dared Washington to carry out a military raid against him like the one that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
A reporter sought the U.S. reaction to Saeed's press conference, and asked Toner whether he thought that the Pakistani authorities should have allowed him to address the media, or should they have arrested him.
Toner said he was aware of the press conference, and clarified that "the $10 million is for information that leads to an arrest or conviction, not about his location. And this is information that could withstand judicial scrutiny, so I think what's important here is we're not seeking this guy's location. We all know where he is. Every journalist in Pakistan and in the region knows how to find him. But we're looking for information that can be usable to convict him in a court of law."
When the reporter pointed out that the Indians certainly seem to say that they have information on the whereabouts of Saeed, Toner admitted it and referred him to "the Indians and the Pakistanis to talk about their counter-terrorism cooperation."
"There is information, there is intelligence that is not necessarily usable in a court of law. We're trying to get information that can be used to put this gentleman behind bars," he clarified.
Toner said he did not know whether there was a legal or an internal process that was required to designate someone when he was nominated for the Rewards for Justice. "I'm not sure how long that process is and how - when it began, but it does take some amount of time," he added.
"We are in a shared struggle here and that individuals like this gentleman, Hafiz Saeed, are a threat to the region. It wasn't just six Americans killed. It was scores killed in 2008 attacks in Mumbai. And he's also - he's been - his group has been responsible for many attacks in the region," Toner said.
Asked whether he expected the Pakistani government to move against Saeed, a guy who clearly thought that he could operate with immunity inside Pakistan, Toner replied: "What we're looking to do through this Reward for Justice offer is to put this case and this individual back in the limelight and to seek out information that we feel would give Pakistani authorities the tools or the wherewithal to prosecute him."
by RTT Staff Writer
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