US announces reward to strengthen investigation into 2008 Mumbai attacks
Announcing a new $5-million bounty on the terrorists involved in the "barbaric" 2008 attack on Mumbai, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has demanded that Pakistan must act against the Lakshar-e-Taiba (LeT).
"It is an affront to the families of the victims that, after 10 years, those who planned the Mumbai attack have still not been convicted for their involvement," he said on Sunday.
The 10 terrorists who came from Pakistan by the Arabian Sea killed 166 people -- including Indian security personnel and 26 foreign nationals -- and left another 300 injured during a three-day rampage.
Pompeo said, "The US is committed to seeing that those responsible for this attack face justice. The Department of State Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Programme is offering a new reward for up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual who was involved in planning or facilitating the 2008 Mumbai attack.
"We call upon all countries, particularly Pakistan, to uphold their UN Security Council obligations to implement sanctions against the terrorists responsible for this atrocity, including (LeT) and its affiliates," he added.
This is the third RFJ bounty from the State Department on terrorists involved in the Mumbai attack.
In 2012, the Department put a bounty of $10 million on LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and $2 million on his deputy, Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki.
The rewards have not worked so far and Saeed operates openly in Pakistan, leaving the effectiveness of the latest steps open to question.
Under international pressure, the Pakistani Punjab government put him under house arrest in January in 2017 but a review board headed by a Lahore High Court judge ordered his release in November that year.
Saeed has also been declared an international terrorist by the UN Security Council.
Before the Mumbai attack, the US had designated the LeT as a terrorist organisation in 2001 and imposed sanctions on it and the UN Security Council followed suit in 2005.
The RFJ website, which said the "reward offer extends to any individual who bears responsibility for this act of terror", mentioned four persons, who, it said, have been indicted by a US federal court.
They are Sajid Mir, Major Iqbal, Abu Qahafa and Mazhar Iqbal (alias Abu al-Qama).
The RJF website said that Mir was the handler for Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley, who was sent by the LeT on a spying mission to India to prepare for the attacks.
Headley, whose original name was Daood Sayed Gilani, is serving a 35-year prison sentence in the US for his role in the Mumbai attack and in a terrorist conspiracy against a Danish newspaper.
The only terrorist captured by Indian security, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, was tried by Indian courts and executed in 2012.
(With inputs from agencies.)