The Obama administration on Friday said it announced a bounty of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed to bring him to justice as it was convinced that the LeT founder had played a key role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
“I don’t believe he has (been indicted in a US court), but we certainly want to see him brought to justice,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters.
He also clarified that the reward for Saeed was not for his capture but for information that could be used in his prosecution.
“As everyone and their mother know at this point, he’s hiding in plain sight in Pakistan, so we’re not seeking his whereabouts. We certainly know that. We are seeking information that can be used to prosecute him,” Mr. Toner said.
Besides, Mr. Toner went out to list a number of terrorist attacks in the sub-continent in which LeT was involved.
“There’s several attacks that LeT has claimed responsibility for, been implicated in. January 2010 attack on Srinagar airport that killed five Indians; December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament building; the July 2006 train attack in Mumbai; and a February 2010 attack against hotels in Kabul that we’re all aware of that killed nine Indians, four Afghans, and one French citizens,” he said.
Responding to questions referring to the Pakistani statement that there was no charges against Saeed, he said US believes that the LeT founder is guilty of these crimes. He, however, refrained giving any details of his intelligence information.
“An allegation (against Saeed is) based on our conviction that he is, in fact, guilty of these crimes, but obviously, can’t get into the detail -- our belief is based on intelligence. But what we’re looking for is evidence that can be used to prosecute him in a court of law in Pakistan or elsewhere, and the $10 million is that sweetener to encourage people to come forward,” he said.
Referring to the series of television appearances by Saeed after the rewards were announced, Mr. Toner hoped that he would soon be behind bars.
“I think he can do what he wants to, certainly, and he’s clearly trying to bask in the media attention. We just hope that and reiterate that our offer is very real, that if anybody knows or can produce evidence that ties him to the Mumbai bombings and other terrorist attacks that they step forward,” he said.
“There’s numerous incidents in the region. They are, obviously, an active terrorist organisation. We’re asking for an individual to step forward, who can produce evidence that ties into these attacks. We’re not playing some sort of strategic game here. We’re just trying to prosecute this individual,” Mr. Toner said.
The U.S., he said, is in communication with the Indian government. “We’re in very close contact with the Indian government on this,” he said.
Saeed is accused of masterminding the 2008 siege of Mumbai that left 166 people dead.