- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A day after Washington placed a $10 million bounty on his head, a terrorist leader in Pakistan taunted the United States at a news conference Wednesday, as Pakistani officials asked for “concrete evidence” against a man who says he runs a charity.

“I am here. I am visible. America should give that reward money to me,” said Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, a 61-year-old engineering professor who founded the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“America can contact me whenever it wants to. Life and death is in the hands of God, not in the hands of America,” he told reporters in the garrison city Rawalpindi, home to Pakistan’s army headquarters, the Associated Press reported.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the reward was misunderstood. The bounty was not for Mr. Saeed’s capture but for evidence that would prove him guilty of terrorism.

“We all know where he is. You know, 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,” he told reporters.

Mr. Toner insisted that the United States is only trying to help Pakistan bring him to justice.

“It’s not to put pressure on any one government,” he said. “But we wanted to be able to provide Pakistan with the tools that they need to prosecute this individual.”

Mr. Saeed created Lashkar-e-Taiba as a Pakistani proxy to wage a terrorist war against India, which blames his group for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans. It also has ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The State Department designated Lashkar-e-Taiba, sometimes called LeT, as a foreign terrorist organization in 2001.

“There’s no question LeT conducted the Mumbai attacks,” said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the issue.

Saeed’s the boss, no matter how much he tries to distance himself from the people who do the dirty work.”

Mr. Saeed was arrested after the Mumbai attacks, but a Pakistani court exonerated him of terrorism charges in 2009. He denies any involvement.

Pakistan banned Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002 at Washington’s insistence. But the group re-emerged under the banner of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity headed by Mr. Saeed but widely acknowledged to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Both groups have powerful backers in Pakistan’s military, in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency and among politicians. No restrictions have been placed on Mr. Saeed’s movements or public appearances.

The State Department also has offered a $2 million bounty on Mr. Saeed’s brother-in-law and Lashkar-e-Taiba’s deputy leader, Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki.

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