All Sorts of Things

Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.

Pakistan: Hafiz Muhammad Saeed Bounty a Cock-Up for the United States

Lakshar-e-Taiba (LeT) is one of the world’s most well known terror outfits and has been designated a terrorist organization by the Australian, Indian, Pakistani, Russian, US and UK governments, the European Union and United Nations.

LeT, the term means “Army of God”, earned its reputation through successful operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and, particularly, India – in 2001 and 2008, it attacked the Indian Parliament and Mumbai respectively. In 2009, the group announced it was changing tracks and would only pursue peaceful actions. Despite this declaration, many security experts believe LeT continues to operate training camps and conduct operations.

It, therefore, is not surprising that the name of LeT’s co-founder, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (HMS), can be found on a number of most-wanted lists; to paraphrase NRA’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, HMS clearly is a bad guy with a gun. Consequently, it makes sense for the US to pursue a case against HMS – especially since Pakistan won’t be prosecuting him for anything other than eating tobacco-less paan.

It makes no sense, however, for Washington to publicly announce a $10 million award for information that could lead to HMS’ conviction. On the contrary, it ends up helping him since it improves his reputation in anti-US circles as HMS goes about living an apparent fearless and free life while giving interviews to domestic and international media.

Somehow, I don’t think the US intended their bounty to have that impact … or did they?

Let’s consider some scenarios under which this bounty makes sense. The first scenario assumes HMS being picked up by either the Pakistani or US authorities and placed in an unknown location for an indeterminate amount of time on the basis of undisclosed information acquired through this award. In that case, the bounty may be worth the end result. However, the odds of that happening are pretty slim.

The second scenario assumes the US authorities always intended to help HMS enhance his reputation and subsequently use him to influence an effective LeT in a post-NATO Afghanistan. Of course, this assumption is predicated on the theory that HMS, who regularly claims the Pakistani Taliban are supported by the US, is a Whitey Bulger clone and getting payoffs from the US government.

Regardless, as things stand, this bounty is a colossal waste of time and money, and continues to seriously hurt the US reputation among those crazy terrorists. It also leaves the US between a rock and a hard place since it can’t effectively pull the bounty without damaging its already ruinous reputation. Sometimes, $10 million just isn’t worth all the headaches.

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2013 by in International Affairs and tagged , , , , , .
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