Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed has became one of only four terrorist leaders for whom the US has offered a bounty of USD 10 million, joining the likes of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar.
The only person with a higher bounty on his head than these four terrorist leaders is Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, for whom the US has offered a reward of USD 25 million under its Rewards for Justice programme.
Besides 61-year-old Saeed, the other terrorist leaders who carry a bounty of USD 10 million on their head are Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Du'a, one-eyed Mullah Omar and Yasin al-Suri alias Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a senior Al-Qaeda facilitator based in Iran.
The listing for Saeed on the Rewards for Justice website describes him as a former professor of Arabic and Engineering who was a founding member of "Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a radical Deobandi Islamist organisation dedicated to installing Islamist rule over parts of India and Pakistan, and its military branch, Lashkar-e-Taiba".
"Saeed is suspected of masterminding numerous terrorist attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 166 people, including six American citizens," the listing further states.
The website noted that India has issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Saeed for his role in the Mumbai attacks. Besides, the US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a "Specially Designated National under Executive Order 13224".
The Order provides a means to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist groups by authorising the US government to designate and block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.
The US has also offered a USD two million bounty for Saeed's deputy Abdul Rahman Makki, who is described on the Rewards for Justice website as the "second in command" of the LeT.
The US designated the LeT a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation" in December 2001 and the JuD was given the same designation in April 2008.
The UN Security Council declared the JuD a terrorist organisation in December 2008, soon after the Mumbai attacks.
Saeed, born on May 6, 1950 at Sargodha in Punjab province, was put under house arrest for less than six months after the Mumbai attacks, largely due to pressure from the international community.
He was freed in 2009 on the orders of the Lahore High Court.
Though the LeT was banned by the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan government has not formally outlawed the JuD.
The JuD also carries out its activities through the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, which was created in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
In recent months, Saeed has played a key role in cobbling together the Defa-e-Pakistan Council, a conglomerate of over 40 hardline and extremist groups that has organised massive rallies against the US and India across Pakistan.
The US State Department later issued a statement saying "Saeed and his organisation continue to spread ideology advocating terrorism, as well as virulent rhetoric condemning the United States, India, Israel, and other perceived enemies."
Regarding Makki, the statement said that in early 2007, he provided approximately USD 248,000 to an LeT terrorist training camp and approximately USD 165,000 to an LeT-affiliated madrassa.
On November 4, 2010, the US Treasury Department designated him a 'Specially Designated National', which subjects him to US sanctions, it said.
Since its inception in 1984, the Rewards for Justice Program has paid more than USD 100 million to more than 70 persons who provided actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide, it said.
Saeed Among 4 Terrorists With $10 Million on Head
Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
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