AP Interview: Pakistani dismisses US $10 million

By Zarar Khan

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 2:35 p.m. MDT

The 61-year-old Saeed operates openly in Pakistan from his base in the eastern city of Lahore and travels widely, giving public speeches and appearing on TV talk shows. He has been one of the leading figures of the Difa-e-Pakistan, or Defense of Pakistan Council, which has held a series of large demonstrations in recent months against the U.S. and India.

The reward for Saeed is one of the highest offered by the U.S. and is equal to the amount for Taliban chief Mullah Omar. Only Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as al-Qaida chief, fetches a higher bounty at $25 million.

The bounties were posted on the U.S. State Department Rewards for Justice website late Monday.

Pakistani defense analyst Hasan Askari-Rizvi said the move against Saeed could be payback for his recent demonstrations against U.S. drone strikes and allowing NATO supplies meant for troops in Afghanistan to travel through Pakistan.

Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna welcomed the U.S. announcement, saying it would signal to Lashkar-e-Taiba and its patrons that the international community remains united in fighting terrorism.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which means Army of the Pure, belongs to the Salafi movement, an ultraconservative branch of Islam similar to the Wahhabi 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.

Associated Press writers Nirmala George in New Delhi and Matthew Lee and AP Intelligence Writer Kimberley Dozier in Washington contributed to this report.

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