It was already a bit bizarre when the United States offered a $10 million reward on Monday for information leading to the capture of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba who is accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
After all, Saeed isn't exactly in hiding. As the New York Times reported yesterday, he lives in a well-known compound on the outskirts of Lahore and appears frequently at public rallies throughout Pakistan. (You can send my $10 million check to 1899 L St. NW., Washington D.C. 20036. Thanks!)
But things reached the level of high farce today when Saeed held a press conference essentially daring U.S. authorities to come arrest him:
The 62-year-old former engineering and Arabic professor appeared on stage at a specially convened press conference in the Flashman Hotel, close to the headquarters of the Pakistan army in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
“If the United States wants to contact me, I am present, they can contact me. I am also ready to face any American court, or wherever there is proof against me,” he told reporters in the hotel named after a fictional colonial hero.
“Americans seriously lack information. Don’t they know where I go and where I live and what I do?” he said. “These rewards are usually announced for people who are hiding in mountains or caves. I wish the Americans would give this reward money to me.”
There was evidently some U.S.-India diplomacy behind the oddly timed reward U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman announced the bounty during a visit to New Delhi. But it still seems a little odd to essentially highlight Washington's inability to apprehend a suspected terrorist living in plain sight in a country that's ostensibly a U.S. ally.
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images