- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

Huge cash bounties have smoked out a few high-profile terrorists, but many targets of huge rewards from both sides of the Muslim holy wars thumb their noses at the bankrolls.
In January, al Qaeda commander Osama bin Laden ignored the $7 million price on his head to attend his son's showy wedding in Kandahar, Afghanistan, preening for television despite pursuers seeking him on an indictment in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, and for the deadly assault on the USS Cole a year ago tomorrow.
Lapsed Muslim Salman Rushdie outlived the $2.5 million reward posted in 1988 by an Iranian foundation to back the religious fatwa (edict) that sentenced him to die for perceived insults to Islam in his book "The Satanic Verses." Iranian officials repudiated in 1998 what Mr. Rushdie called an "obscene financial reward."
A bill to increase to $25 million the top reward for terrorism fugitives such as bin Laden was expected to reach the House floor today, said Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican, who was credited with the 1998 bill raising the amount from $2 million to $5 million. Aviation groups supplement the purse by $2 million if airliners are involved.
"The rewards program does work and it should be expanded," Mr. Gilman said of offers publicized on fliers dropped on Afghanistan with humanitarian food packages, and printed on matchbooks in a part of the world where smoking is common. "A price of $25 million on bin Laden's head will be more effective than the previous price."
Targets who proved less wily or whose associates were less loyal included the prize catch Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, nabbed in Pakistan in 1995 and convicted of leading the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in the first attempt to topple the towers.
State Department officials wouldn't talk about Yousef's seizure, but the United States reportedly gave $2 million and set up a kind of witness-protection program for an informant who turned on his mentor after being threatened with death for refusing to bring a bomb into the United States.
Another $2 million ended the 27-month worldwide hunt for Mir Aimal Kasi, the Pakistani who killed CIA employees Frank Darling and Lansing Bennett with a spray of AK-47 bullets at a Fairfax County traffic light.
A student who recognized Kasi's photo on a matchbook cover, like those now circulated featuring bin Laden's bearded face, sent FBI and CIA agents to room 213 at the Hotel Shalimar in Pakistan's remote Dera Ghazi Khan region. Kasi was flown to the United States without extradition proceedings. He now is awaiting execution on Virginia's death row.
Officials at the State Department's Rewards for Justice program, which finances such manhunts, say millions more have been paid out in "dozens of cases," but they are cagey about specific rewards, lest they inadvertently give a fact that identifies an informant.
A White House "fact sheet" released yesterday said the program has paid more than $8 million in 22 cases since 1995 and "thousands of innocent lives around the world have been saved through the prevention of terrorist attacks."
"We don't publicize them because one of the things we strive to do is to keep confidential the identity of people who come forward," said a State Department official speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Successes for which the department will not disclose details include the thwarting of a plot in 1991 to bomb an airport in an unidentified East Asian nation, and simultaneously strafe its ticket counters.
The official said it was fair to infer that rewards were paid to locate suspects in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of U.S. embassies at Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the discovery of information in Khaled Shaikh Mohammed's Manila hide-out, which the State Department says headed off a plot to bomb 12 U.S. airliners over two days in January 1995. The plotters, however, are still at large.

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