U.S. offers bounties for terrorist leaders in Pakistan

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The State Department on Tuesday said Mr. Saeed and his organization “continue to spread ideology advocating terrorism, as well as virulent rhetoric, condemning the United States, India, Israel and other perceived enemies.”

Not hiding in caves

Mr. Saeed is a frequent speaker at public meetings organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, an alliance of religious and extremist groups. Anti-U.S. rhetoric runs rife, and armed jihadists are among the audience at these meetings.

Mr. Saeed’s whereabouts is no mystery. The 61-year-old engineering professor lives in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province. His home in the city’s southern Johar Town neighborhood is routinely guarded by police. On Tuesday, armed volunteers helped beef up security.

Mr. Saeed lashed out at the United States in an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

“We’re not hiding in caves for rewards to be set on finding us,” he said. “We are addressing hundreds of thousands of people daily in Pakistan. I believe either the U.S. has very little knowledge and is basing its decisions on the wrong information being provided by India or it is just frustrated.”

India has issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Mr. Saeed because of his role in the Mumbai attacks. In 2009, the Lahore High Court cleared Mr. Saeed of terrorism charges.

After the State Department put Lashkar-e-Taiba on the U.S. terrorist list, Pakistan banned the group in 2002. However, the group re-emerged under a new name, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, purportedly a charity. Mr. Saeed heads Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is not banned in Pakistan.

In April 2008, the State Department designated Jamaat-ud-Dawa a terrorist organization. Eight months later, the United Nations did the same.

‘A strategic role’

“It is not that he hasn’t been arrested because we don’t know where he is,” said Stephen Tankel, an assistant professor at American University and author of “Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

“This [bounty] may be designed to get the security establishment [in Pakistan] to put Hafiz Saeed back in the box,” he added.

Mr. Tankel said Mr. Saeed “retains a strategic role within” Lashkar-e-Taiba.

A U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the issue, said Mr. Saeed provides “strategic guidance to the group and delegates the details to his trusted commanders.”

Lashkar-e-Taiba follows the austere Wahhabi strain of Islam common in Saudi Arabia. It also has lower-level working relationships with the Taliban, al Qaeda and other militant groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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