The US has announced a $10 million bounty on Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa(JUD) chief Hafiz Saeed, a decision welcomed by India, which on Tuesday hoped that this would prod Islamabad into taking action against the mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
Late on Monday night, the US Government announced an award of up to $10 million for information leading to arrest and conviction of Saeed and up to USD two million for his deputy Adbul Rahman Makki 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.
"It also sends a strong signal to Lashkar-e-Taiba as also its members and patrons that the international community remains united in combating terrorism," external affairs minister SM Krishna told reporters in New Delhi.
Asserting that there was enough material to detain and interrogate Saeed and that Pakistan was not "doing its duty", home minister P Chidambaram said US decision should prod Pakistan in taking action against him. "Pakistan can't go through with this farce of a trial," he said.
The US maintains both 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 USD 25 million.
Chidambaram said the US decision will also help India in sharing information on Saeed and JuD with the American authorities.
Saeed, the brain behind the terror attack on Mumbai that left 166 dead, is "safely tucked away" somewhere in Pakistan, Krishna said, adding that 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," the external affairs minister said.
Krishna said in recent years, India and the US have deepened mutual understanding on the nature of terrorism challenges emanating from India’s neighbourhood.
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 on Monday, 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 counter-terrorism cooperation through the Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism, Counter-terrorism Cooperation Initiative, the Homeland Security Dialogue and regular exchanges between intelligence and law enforcement agencies, MEA said.