x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Pakistan militant mocks $10m bounty

Wanted man says "I am here."


RAWALPINDI, Pakistan // One of Pakistan's most notorious extremists mocked the United States during a defiant media conference close to the country's military headquarters yesterday, a day after the US slapped a $10 million (Dh36.7m) bounty on him.

"I am here. I am visible. America should give that reward money to me," said Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, referring to the fact that his whereabouts are not a mystery. "I will be in Lahore tomorrow. America can contact me whenever it wants to."

Analysts have said Pakistan is unlikely to arrest Mr Saeed, the founder of the militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba (LiT), because of his alleged links with the country's intelligence agency and the political danger of doing Washington's bidding in a country where anti-American sentiment is rampant.

Mr Saeed, 61, has been accused of orchestrating the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Hours before Mr Saeed spoke, the US deputy secretary of state Thomas Nides met Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in the nearby capital, Islamabad, for talks about rebuilding the two nation's relationship. In a brief statement, Mr Nides did not mention the bounty offer but reaffirmed America's commitment to "work through" the challenges bedeviling ties.

The US said on Tuesday it issued the bounty for information leading to Mr Saeed's arrest and conviction in response to his increasingly "brazen" appearances. It also offered up to $2 million for the LiT deputy leader Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki.