26/11 Mumbai Attacks: US announces USD 5 million reward for information on perpetrators

NEW DELHI: The U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program on the 10th anniversary of 26/11 has announced a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of any individual who committed, conspired to commit, or aided or abetted in the execution of the 2008 Mumbai attack.

The State Department also asked Pakistan to implement UN sanctions against LeT.

"The United States is committed to working with our international partners to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attack. Today’s announcement marks the third RFJ reward offer seeking information on the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack. In April 2012, the Department of State announced reward offers for information that brings to justice LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, another senior LeT leader," according to US State Department statement.

Six Americans were killed in 26/11 terror strikes -- Ben Zion Chroman, Gavriel Holtzberg, Sandeep Jeswani, Alan Scherr, his daughter Naomi Scherr, and Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum.

In December 2001, the Department of State designated LeT as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.In May 2005, the United Nations (UN) 1267 Sanctions Committee added LeT to the Consolidated UN Security Council Sanctions List.

"FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business," noted the State Department.

"Key members of this heinous plot remain at large, and this investigation remains active and ongoing. This reward offer extends to any individual who bears responsibility for this act of terror," the State Department noted.

David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana were indicted in a U.S. federal court for their support of LeT terrorist operations. In January 2013, Headley, a U.S. citizen partly of Pakistani descent, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for a dozen federal terrorism crimes relating to his role in planning the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and a subsequent proposed attack on a newspaper in Denmark. He pleaded guilty in March 2010 to all 12 counts against him, including aiding and abetting the murders of the six American victims.

Headley was convicted of conspiracy to bomb public places in India; conspiracy to murder and maim persons in India; six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in India; conspiracy to murder and maim persons in Denmark; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in Denmark; and conspiracy to provide material support to LeT.

Rana, a Canadian citizen and longtime friend of Headley, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist plot in Denmark and providing material support to LeT. In June 2011, Rana was acquitted of conspiracy to provide material support to the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, but he was convicted of participating in a conspiracy involving a terrorism plot against a Danish newspaper and providing material support to LeT.

The following suspects also have been indicted in a U.S. federal court --Sajid Mir – served as a “handler” for David Headley and others who were directed to carry out actions relating to planning, preparing for, and carrying out terrorist attacks on behalf of LeT; Major Iqbal – a resident of Pakistan who participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by LeT; Abu Qahafa – a resident of Pakistan associated with LeT who trained others in combat techniques for use in terrorist attacks; Mazhar Iqbal, alias Abu al-Qama – a resident of Pakistan and one of LeT’s commanders.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, " On behalf of the Government of the United States of America and all Americans, I express my solidarity with the people of India and the city of Mumbai on the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai terrorist attack. We stand with the families and friends of the victims, whose loved ones were lost in this act of barbarism, including six American citizens. The barbarity of 26/11 shocked the entire world...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 Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates."