US $5 mn award for the 26/11 attackers is tokenism
US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, urged Pakistan to take action against those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, while also announcing a $5-million reward for any information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of any individual who committed, conspired, aided or abetted the audacious terror strikes. The announcement came on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the assault, which left 166, including six Americans, dead.
“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,” Mr Pompeo said. He called upon all countries (Pakistan in particular) to “uphold their UN Security Council obligations to implement sanctions against the terrorists responsible for this atrocity, including Lashkar-e-Tayba (LeT) and its affiliates”.
Why does the US need to offer a reward for information that is already in the public domain? All that Washington needs to do is to go through the detailed interrogation reports of one of its own citizens. Pakistan-born American terrorist, David Coleman Headley, who admitted to visiting Mumbai at least seven times to videograph the targets that were chosen for the final assault, has given the names of all those who committed, conspired, aided and abetted the terror strikes.
India would also have shared the detailed interrogation report of Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist who was caught alive in Mumbai. That, too, is proof of individuals and organisations responsible for the attack. Both Headley and Kasab have, in fact, corroborated each other on two important aspects of 26/11.
One, that every major action of the LeT is executed only after the approval of its founder, Hafiz Saeed. Headley told the FBI and the NIA that Saeed knew about the Mumbai attacks and that the operation was launched only after his approval. Kasab, too, has detailed how Saeed supervised weapons training and complimented him for his aim. Two, both said the ISI handheld the LeT through the planning.
Surely, America remembers that it had also issued a $10-million bounty for Saeed in 2012. No one needs reminding that not only does the LeT founder continue to roam free; he also continues to threaten India and the US.
It is indeed an “affront to the families of the victims”, as Pompeo said, that the trial in Pakistan has become a sham. Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, the LeT’s military commander, who was arrested soon after 26/11, not only fathered a child while in jail; he is now also out on bail.
The fresh reward of $5 million is mere tokenism, and it is 10 years too late. India tried and hanged Kasab. The US can — and must — push Pakistan to take tougher measures.