India Welcomes US Bounty for Alleged Plotter of 2008 Mumbai Attacks
India has welcomed the U.S. announcement of a $10 million bounty for the founder of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. India has long urged Pakistan to act against Saeed, who is alleged to have plotted the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna says the U.S. government's reward offer reflects the commitment of both countries to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice.
India says the Islamist terror group, the Lahskar-e-Taiba, masterminded the 2008 terror strikes, which killed 166 people in its financial hub.
"It also sends a strong message to Lashkar-e-Taiba and also its members and patrons that the international community remains united in combating terrorism," said Krishna. "In recent years, the United States and India have moved much more closer than ever before in our common endeavor of fighting terrorism."
U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman told Indian officials about the reward for Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, during a visit to New Delhi.
The U.S. Rewards for Justice notice, where the bounty is posted, says Saeed is suspected of masterminding numerous terrorist attacks, including the Mumbai attacks. It describes Saeed as a Pakistani citizen. Washington has also announced a $2 million reward for Abdul Rehman Makki, a brother-in-law and close associate of Saeed.
Saeed heads the charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is widely seen as a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which he founded. He operates openly in Pakistan, giving speeches. He has long been on New Delhi's most-wanted list.
Krishna says India has been asking Islamabad to act against Saeed, who he says is "safely tucked in Pakistan."
"I have always been insisting that he was the brain behind the terror attack on Mumbai," Krishna added. "And, these terrorist conspirators cannot be spared and they will have to be brought to justice. And, that is what we have been demanding from Pakistan every time that I have had an occasion to discuss our bilateral issues. This has always taken pride of place."
Pakistani authorities held Saeed under house arrest for about six months after the Mumbai attacks. He was later released, without charge. Pakistan's Supreme Court said there was insufficient evidence to detain him.
The $10 million bounty for Saeed is same as that offered for Taliban chief, Mullah Omar. The only higher bounty offered, $25 million, is for Al-Qaida leader, Ayman al Zawahiri.
An Indian Foreign Ministry statement says the United States and India agree that all terrorist organizations, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, should be defeated and have called for elimination of terrorist safe havens and infrastructure inside Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Article by Anjana Pasricha, VOA News