The United States has announced a $10-million bounty on Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, a move welcomed on Tuesday by India, which said it sends a strong signal to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its "patrons" that the international community remains united in combating terrorism.
Late last night, the US government announced an award of up to $ 10 million for information leading to arrest and conviction of Saeed and up to $ 2 million for Hafiz Adbul Rahman Makki, his jihad financier brother-in-law under the Rewards for Justice programme, for information on the two terrorists, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
"India welcomes the notification under the Rewards for Justice Programme. It reflects the commitment of India and the United States to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice and continuing efforts to combat terrorism," said External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
"It also sends a strong signal to the LeT as also its members and patrons that the international community remains united in combating terrorism," he added. He also said Saeed, the brain behind the terror attack on Mumbai, was "safely tucked away" somewhere in Pakistan.
The US maintains both the LeT and JuD as foreign terrorist organisations and has also individually designated Saeed and Makki for terrorist activities under its law.
Sixty-one-year-old Saeed has become one of only four terrorist leaders for whom the US has offered a bounty of $ 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 put a reward of $ 25 million.
Krishna said in recent years, India and the US have deepened mutual understanding on the nature of terrorism challenges emanating from India's neighbourhood.
"The US which keeps a tab on all these terrorists around the world, would have kept a tab on Saeed.....I have always been insisting that he was the brain behind the terror attack on Mumbai. These terrorists and conspirators cannot be spared and they will have to be brought to justice and that is what we have been demanding from Pakistan," he said.
India and the US agree that all terrorist organisations, including LeT, should be defeated and have called for elimination of terrorist safe havens and infrastructure inside Pakistan and Afghanistan, a statement by the MEA said.
It also said that the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman conveyed to Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai Washington's intention to take additional steps to deal with terrorists like Saeed and Makki to which Mathai expressed New Delhi's sincere appreciation.
The two countries have strengthened their counterterrorism cooperation through the joint working group on counterterrorism, the counterterrorism cooperation initiative, the Homeland Security dialogue and regular exchanges between intelligence and law enforcement agencies, MEA said.