Anti-Terror Stimulus? US Offers Rewards for Top Terrorists

By Lindsey Ellerson

Mar 25, 2009 4:00pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia reports: The US State Department’s Rewards for Justice program announced Wednesday major rewards for information leading to the location or capture of three top al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. The US is offering $5 million for anyone who can lead them to Beitullah Mehsud, the top Taliban leader in Pakistan who has expanded his reach in the country over the past several months. Mehsud has negotiated deals with the Pakistani government that have allowed him to consolidate power in regions under his control, where the Taliban has imposed strict Islamic law and exacted harsh punishments on those who disobey. "Mehsud is regarded as a key al-Qa’ida facilitator in the tribal areas of South Waziristan in Pakistan," the State Department said in a statement. Mehsud is believed to have orchestrated the January 2007 suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and to have ordered the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007. Another $5 million reward was offered today for any information leading to the capture of Sirajuddin Haqqani, a top Taliban leader with close ties to al Qaeda. Haqqani has claimed responsibility for the brazen daylight attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul on January 14, 2008 that left six people dead, including one American. "Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani terrorist network founded by his father Jalaladin Haqqani, maintains close ties to al-Qa’ida," the State Department said. Haqqani has also admitted to attempting to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai last April, the State Department said today, and has coordinated cross-border attacks on US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan. The State Departments says it believes Haqqani is located in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The US also announced today it would give up to $1 million to a tipster leading to the capture of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a key al Qaeda propaganda figure. The Libyan-born al-Libi was captured in Afghanistan and imprisoned at Bagram Air Force Base in 2002, but escaped in 2005 and has since been featured in a number of al Qaeda promotional videos. "Al-Libi is a key motivator in the global jihadi movement and his messages convey a clear threat to U.S. persons or property worldwide," the State Department said. The State Department says it believes al-Libi is hiding in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. The Obama administration has continued the Bush administration’s policy of using unmanned drones to attack Taliban and al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan. Wednesday a drone-launched missile slammed into a home believed to belong to Taliban leader Maulvi Noor Muhammad in Makin, South Waziristan where many of Mehsud’s supporters are believed to be. At least eight people were killed.

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