US Mumbai $5 mn reward: What’s behind the Agenda

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AFP |

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday urged Pakistan to take action against those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks as Washington offered a new reward of $5 million for helping secure their capture.

The announcement came on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the assault, which left 166 people dead and hundreds injured after Islamist militants from Pakistan unleashed a wave of violence across India’s financial capital lasting three days.

“It is an affront to the families of the victims that, after ten years, those who planned the Mumbai attack have still not been convicted for their involvement,” Pompeo said in a statement.

A party linked to the charitable wing of the LeT contested Pakistan’s national elections in July, failing to win any seats but winning more than 435,000 national and regional votes.

“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.”

“We stand with the families and friends of the victims, whose loved ones were lost in this act of barbarism, including six American citizens,” he added.

Read more: US analyst castes mystery on 2008 Mumbai attacks

Reality on Ground

It is the third such reward offered by the US after the State Department announced bounties of $10 million for Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and $2 million for Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, another senior leader of the group.

Saeed, who is also designated a terrorist by the United Nations, has denied involvement in terrorism and the Mumbai attacks.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, in 2012 announced a $10 million reward from US govt for anyone that provides information that could lead to the conviction of Hafiz Saeed. Next day, however, Hafiz Saeed announced his whereabouts in a public procession in Rawalpindi also pointing out that there has never been any evidence linking him with Mumbai terrorism and that he has been writing to the United Nations.
Also, reporters grilled the American State Dept’s spokesman that over the bounties announced on Hafiz’s head if he is roaming freely in Pakistan? State Department then clarified that while Hafiz’s location is known the purpose of the bounty was the acquisition of evidence that could legally link him with the attack in Mumbai.
For many analysts, the continuous US vendetta against Hafiz Saeed is a manifestation of geopolitical desires rather than a campaign for justice. Hafiz Saeed has been often demonized by the Indian media without proof as the sum of all terror inside India.
This kneejerk reaction often helps divert attention from domestic factors such as Indian oppression of Kashmiris and other ethnic groups as well as help in polarizing society to garner votes. The US bowing to Indian demands helps both in wooing India into a strategic alliance as well as furthering the narrative of a fight against “all types of terror”.
The Department of State’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program meanwhile said it was offering 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” the execution of the attack.
It can be asserted that while both India and the US lack any solid information to legally link Hafiz Saeed to the Mumbai carnage, they are using the bogey of “Pakistan based terror” to further their own geopolitical agenda.
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