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U.S Places Bounty on ISI Controlled Terrorist!

Interesting Article: "US tightens screws on Pakistan with $10 million bounty" by Ariel Zirulnick / Pakistan published Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012.

An interesting article mentioned that the US has offered a $10 million bounty for the Pakistani militant accused of plotting the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, which killed 166 people, including several US citizens. The move was welcomed in India, but could anger rival Pakistan, which has been considering changes to its fraught relationship with the US. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed lives openly in Pakistan, occasionally giving speeches and appearing on talk shows, and founded the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the 1980s. The US considers it a terrorist group and Pakistan officially banned LeT in 2002 under US pressure, but the group still operates relatively freely in Pakistan, Associated Press reports. So who is Hafiz Mohammad Saeed?

India, which has struggled to contain and punish terror attacks on its soil, welcomed the news of the US bounty and held it up as proof that Pakistan harbors terrorists, the Indian Express reports. The New York Times reports that Saeed lives openly on the outskirts of Lahore and previous attempts to prosecute him have failed, as did efforts to put him under house arrest. “Hafiz Saeed and his aides are not fugitives. They are not living a secret life. They are living in Pakistan as free members of society,” said Hafiz Muhammad Masood, the central information secretary with the social welfare arm of LeT, Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

Saeed has spoken at rallies throughout the country organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, a lobby aiming to persuade politicians to vote against the reopening of the supply lines. The group, which counts banned jihadist groups among its members, operates freely in Pakistan. The US suspects that it has unofficial support from Pakistan's military, possibly as a way to further pressure Washington, The New York Times reports.

The $10 million reward is one of the highest offered by the US, equal to the amount offered for Taliban chief Mullah Omar. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became head of Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden's death, commands a $25 million bounty. There has been an Interpol arrest warrant for Saeed for some time, but Pakistan has not acted on it.

Lashing out at the US for putting a bounty of USD 10 million on his head, a combative Hafiz Mohammad Saeed today said Washington was "frustrated" with him for his countrywide protests against the resumption of NATO supplies and drone strikes. "We are not hiding in caves for bounties to be set on finding us. I think the US is frustrated because we are taking out countrywide protests against the resumption of NATO supplies and drone strikes," LeT founder Saeed was quoted as saying by Al-Jazeera news channel.

Saeed claimed the US move was prompted by the fact that he had been organizing rallies against the reopening of NATO supply lines through Pakistan, which were closed after a cross-border attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

India's Ministry of External Affairs says the government welcomes the U.S. bounty on Saeed, who is one of India's most wanted fugitives.

The ministry statement said the move reflects the commitment of India and the U.S. to bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice and sends a "strong signal" to Lashkar-e-Taiba that the international community remains united in combating terrorism.
U.S. officials have also announced a $2 million bounty for the group's deputy leader, Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki.

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba in the 1980s, allegedly with Pakistani support to pressure archenemy India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan banned the group in 2002 under pressure from the U.S., but it operates with relative freedom — even doing charity work using government money. The U.S. has designated Lashkar-e-Taiba and its social welfare wing Jamaat-ud-Dawwa as foreign terrorist organizations. Intelligence officials and terrorism experts say the group has expanded its focus beyond India and has plotted attacks in Europe and Australia. Some have called it "the next al-Qaida" and fear it could set its sights on the U.S. The bounties were posted on the U.S. State Department Rewards for Justice Website late Monday.

The move comes at a particularly tense time in the troubled relationship with the U.S. and Pakistan. Pakistan's parliament is currently debating a revised framework for relations with the U.S. in the wake of American airstrikes in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two posts along the Afghan border. Saeed has been particularly high-profile over the last few months as part of the leadership of the Difa-e-Pakistan, or Defense of Pakistan Council, which has held a series of large demonstrations opposing the resumption of NATO supplies and reconciliation with India. Lashkar-e-Taiba, which means Army of the Pure, belongs to the Salafi movement, an ultraconservative branch of Islam similar to the Wahabi sect — the main Islamic branch in Saudi Arabia from which al-Qaida partly emerged. Lashkar-e-Taiba and al-Qaida operate separately but have been known to help each other when their paths intersect.

Analysts and terrorism experts agree that Pakistan's intelligence agency, known as the ISI, is still able to control Lashkar-e-Taiba, though the ISI denies it.

It carries out charitable works in scores of villages — partially funded by the Punjab provincial government. It has used national disasters, such the devastating floods in 2010, as recruitment and fundraising opportunities.

Pakistan's tolerance of Lashkar-e-Taiba is rooted in its fear of neighboring India, with which it has fought three wars in 65 years. Analysts believe Pakistan still sees the group as useful in pressuring India, especially over Kashmir.



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