AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Sunday 7 April 2013
Last update 7 April 2013 3:27 am
From the unruly areas of Pakistan to Philippine jungles and the deserts of Iraq, simple matchbooks and posters are proving an effective US tool in the hunt for the world's most wanted men.
Since its launch in 1984, the Rewards for Justice program run by the Diplomatic Security bureau of the State Department has paid out $ 125 million in rewards to 80 people for information leading to the capture of wanted militants.
Pictures of the wanted men are printed on posters, matchbooks and pens along with messages in the local languages and dialects asking for information and providing instructions on how to hand over tip-offs or ring a hotline.
More modern methods to pass the message are also used, such as Twitter and Facebook feeds, a dedicated website, and mobile phone alerts.
Top of the program's wanted list now is Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, with a reward of up to $ 25 million for information leading to his capture.
He is one of just 53 people who the United States is seeking to bring before the courts for terror attacks, and who now have a price on their heads.
The program is also still seeking information on cases in which the trail appears to have gone cold. Despite the dangers, the rewards can be tantalizingly huge in impoverished countries.
One informant earned $ 30 million for leading the US to Uday and Qusay Hussein, the sons of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Thanks to the tip-off, the two were tracked down in July 2003 by a secretive special operations task force sent in to capture them in northern Mosul. A four-hour firefight ensued, in which both men were killed.
Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, a terrorist, was caught after someone picked up a matchbook bearing his picture in Pakistan and tipped off the US Embassy in Islamabad.
The size of the reward depends on how critical the information is to the wanted person's capture and is determined by an inter-agency committee which then recommends an amount to the secretary of state.