- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
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.