U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman announced April 3 that the U.S. government's "Rewards for Justice" (RFJ) program was offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). In other Rewards for Justice cases involving Pakistan, suspects such as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abdel Basit and Mir Amal Kansi have hidden in Pakistan and maintained relatively low profiles. In this case, Saeed is a very public figure in Pakistan. He even held a news conference April 4 in Rawalpindi announcing his location and taunting the United States by saying he was willing to share his schedule with U.S. officials.
While the Saeed case is clearly a political matter rather than a pure law enforcement or intelligence issue, the case has focused a great deal of attention on Rewards for Justice, and it seems an opportune time to examine the history and mechanics of the program.
In the shadow of the 1983 and 1984 bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon, the U.S. Congress established the Rewards for Justice program under the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, which was established by the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986.
The program was intended not only to reward people who provide information that leads to the arrest or conviction of people who plan, commit or attempt terrorist attacks against U.S. targets but also to obtain information that prevents such attacks. U.S. government employees and the employees of other governments are not eligible for the program. The law also authorizes program participants to be entered into the U.S. Department of Justice witness protection program to ensure their safety after providing information. The statute covers arrests of and convictions for the subjects sought and contains a clause for "favorable resolution" of such cases that can be applied when a military strike results in the death of the suspect.
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