Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - The U.S. government is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the terrorists who carried out a bombing attack against a U.S. diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip, and on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy generated additional publicity for the reward offer by placing ads in Palestinian newspapers.
Three American security personnel were killed and a fourth was wounded when a bomb exploded near one of the vehicles as the diplomatic motorcade was traveling to Gaza City on October 15, 2003.
The U.S. officials were on their way to interview Palestinian students interested in an American scholarship program.
"To bring justice to those responsible for this attack, the U.S. Government is offering a reward of up to $5 million, plus protection of an informant's identity and relocation with their families, for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the individuals who committed or aided in this attack," read the ad, which was published in the two main Palestinian dailies, Al Hayat Ha Jedida and Al Quds.
When asked about the timing of the reward announcement -- coming months after the attack -- the U.S. Embassy said only that it "speaks for itself."
The U.S. Embassy spokesman said on Wednesday that some progress had been made in finding the culprits, but more was needed.
The major Palestinian terrorist groups have all denied involvement in the bombing.
One source said she believed the U.S. was waiting to see if anything came of the Palestinian-U.S. investigation before offering the reward.
The reward offer is part of the U.S. government's Rewards for Justice program, and it is detailed on the program's website. Promising strict confidentiality, it advises anyone with a tip to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It also gives telephone numbers and an email address in Washington.
On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's security advisor Jibril Rajoub charged that the U.S. was "blackmailing" the Palestinians over the terror attack by refusing to resume involvement with the Palestinian people until the case is solved.
"You know that the Americans stopped their involvement, waiting for the results of the investigation, and I think that that is blackmail," Rajoub said.
"I think that the Americans are using this case, this isolated case, in order not to be involved or to blackmail the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority," he said.
Since the attack, U.S. diplomats have been forbidden to travel and work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for security reasons, the U.S. Embassy said, something that makes it harder to help the Palestinians.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said the timing of the ad had nothing to do with Rajoub's statement.
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