State Dept. Has ‘Great Respect’ for Islamic Charity, But Declines Terrorist’s Offer of Help for Storm Victims
(CNSNews.com) – The State Department Wednesday expressed “great respect” for Islamic charitable traditions, but declined a terrorist’s offer to dispatch “doctors, relief and rescue experts, food and medicine” to help Americans affected by super storm Sandy.
“While we have great respect, obviously, for the Islamic tradition of social assistance to those who are in need no matter where they might be, this particular offer strikes us as very hollow,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a briefing.
The offer comes from Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar e-Toiba (LeT) and the alleged mastermind of the 2008 terrorist assault in Mumbai, India that left 166 people dead, including six Americans.
Toner noted that Saeed is “believed to be behind organizing” the Mumbai attack. The State Department last April issued a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
In a statement posted on the Facebook page of his current organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Saeed said that, should the U.S. government allow, “we offer our unconditional support and help for the victims of catastrophic Hurricane (Sandy) in East Coast of USA.”
“Regardless of what U.S. govt. propagates about us including their announcement of bounties, we look forward to act on the traits of our Prophet Mohammed SAW [peace be upon him] by helping and serving adversity struck American people; considering it our religious and moral obligation,” he said.
Established with the support of Pakistan’s military intelligence agency ISI to fight Indian rule in disputed Kashmir, LeT later broadened its horizons beyond the Indian enemy, targeting coalition forces in Afghanistan. It declared “jihad” on America, and a senior U.S. military officer last year described it as a “global threat.”
The U.S. government designated LeT a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) shortly after 9/11 and the Pakistani government banned it in 2002.
But is has continued to operate under the name of its pre-existing “charitable” parent organization, JuD, which the State Department calls a “front operation” for LeT. The department’s FTO designation includes JuD as one of its “also known as” names.
Likewise the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of specially designated terrorists names both JuD and LeT, as well as Saeed in his individual capacity.
The November Mumbai attack involved gunmen targeting a railway station, hospitals, banks, a cinema, a bank and a Jewish center in India’s commercial capital over a period of 60 hours.
Days later, India handed Pakistan a list of 20 suspects topped by Saeed. Indian police said the sole surviving gunman confessed the operation was planned on Pakistani soil and alleged that Saeed had met with members of the assault team, saying they were blessed to be “martyrs.”
Saeed has denied any involvement.
Pakistan did place Saeed under house arrest for several months after Mumbai but refused to extradite him and laid no criminal charges against him. In 2009 the Lahore High Court ordered his release, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court a year later.
Despite the U.S. reward offer he continues to appear in public, and regularly leads protest rallies against America.
Unlike many other rewards offered under the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program – which seek information leading to terror suspects’ “arrest or prosecution” – the Saeed notice states that the money is for information leading to his conviction.
“We’re not seeking this guy’s location,” Toner said at the time the bounty was offered. “We all know where he is. We’re looking for information that can be usable to convict him in a court of law.”