Washington Jan 10 2013 (SDN)— The US Department of State has offered $5 million in rewards for information on two Sudanese terrorist suspects it believes are in Somalia “but could be anywhere else” in the world.
In a teleconference with journalists, the US Assistant Director for Threat Investigations and Analysis Directorate Robert Hartung said Wednesday the cash prize would be targeting the arrest of the runaways linked with the murder of an American diplomat and aUSaid agency employee inKhartoumin 2008.
The suspects, Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhasan Haj Hamad and Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim Mohamed are wanted for the 2008 New Year shooting of USAID diplomat John Granville and the agency’s Sudanese employee Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama.
“We don’t know exactly where Mr Makawi or Mr Hamad may be, and so they could be anywhere and this is just an incentive for people to come out and speak to us, to provide this kind of information on either of these individuals,” Mr Hartung said.
The two individuals, who theUSgovernment also link to the terrorist group al-Qaeda’s Sudanese cell, had initially been convicted alongside two others in aSudanese Courtin 2009 but broke jail in July 2010.
Two other individuals who escaped with them were rearrested.
Mr Hartung said the two are believed to have escaped toSomalia, a country that has been terrorised by Al-Qaeda-linked grouping Al-Shabaab. However, he refused to comment on whether theUSgovernment has also been using the cooperation of AU forces and the new Somali government to arrest the suspects.
“I can’t speak on what we may or we may not have done to find any of these individuals. But again, whether someone is in Somalia or another part of the world, we hope that, by offering the reward for both of these individuals, people will provide information regarding these individuals to the US government and we will act on this information,” he said.
The two suspects are said to be fluent in English and Arabic and could be travelling on fake documents.
The Rewards Programme which has been running since the it was established in 1984 has seen theUSgovernment announce pay outs of up to $125 million to 80 people who provide credible information for arrest of wanted terror suspects.
Normally, the Secretary of State may offer prizes in cash for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who plans, commits, or attempts international terrorist acts against theUSpersons or property.
These benefits are also given to those who help prevent acts of terror from occurring, help locate key terrorist leaders, or cut links for terrorism financing.
But the protection of lives of witnesses and whistleblowers is also important.
Mr Hartung said: “We do not release persons’ names and most of the time we don’t even comment on whether a reward has been paid or hasn’t been paid.”
“There are different ways we do this, but I really can’t comment on the specifics because of the security involved, but it is one of the most important things that we consider when someone approaches us with information.”
The Department argues that the cash prizes are not merely a motivation for those who don’t feel like giving information, but just as an appreciation to induce more people into helping fight terrorism.