Statements by US Government Officials about Pakistan
(Topics: Hafiz Saeed)
Date: April 4, 2012
State Department Regular Briefing
Q: Just a couple days after the United States announced — (inaudible) — reward money for Hafiz Saeed, he very openly called a press conference in Rawalpindi. What's the U.S. reaction to that? Do you think that the Pakistani authorities should have allowed that, or should they have arrested him?
MR. TONER: Look, just a couple of clarifications about the Rewards for Justice against Hafiz Saeed. I'm aware that he did give a press conference yesterday, made some public statements. Let's be very clear, because I've been getting questions all morning: Hey, if you know where he is, why issue this reward? Just to clarify, the $10 million is for information that — not about his location but information that leads to an arrest or conviction. And this is information that could withstand judicial scrutiny. So I think what's important here is we're not seeking this guy's location. We all know where he is — you know, every journalist in Pakistan and in the region knows how to find him — but we're looking for information that can be usable to convict him in a court of law.
Q: I thought that information was already out there. The Indians certainly seem to say that they have it.
MR. TONER: Well, the Indians do, and you know, I'd refer you to the Indians and the Pakistanis to talk about their counterterrorism cooperation, but we'll –
Q: (Listen ?), were you ever able to find out how much money the Indians have ponied up for a reward?
MR. TONER: I don't — Matt, did you ask that yesterday? I'm sorry if I didn't –
Q: Yeah, I did.
MR. TONER: I thought you — I thought we'd only gotten the question about –
Q: I'm just curious as to why the U.S. taxpayer should pay for this?
MR. TONER: Well, I think we talked about — a little bit about this yesterday. One is that –
Q: I understand, I mean, if you want to join with the Indians in offering some kind of a joint reward, but I don't understand why it all comes down to –
MR. TONER: Well, you know how a Reward for Justice works. It's a very effective program, and it's not a joint program. It's something that we do on behalf of the United States –
Q: No, no, I mean, I'm not talking about — I mean, if you wanted to add this to whatever the Indians might be offering, I thought that would make — that would — I suppose that would make sense. I just don't –
MR. TONER: I don't — I — you know, I just know that –
Q: And if he's already been indicted, as Toria said yesterday, if he's already been indicted, presumably the prosecutors have information. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been indicted.
MR. TONER: You're talking about — he is indicted within the U.S. or indicted –
MR. TONER: Anywhere. Well, again, I think — look, I think what they're trying to — we're trying to, you know, get information that can be used to put this gentleman behind bars.
Q: So you're saying that there is no information right now that could — that could — that you could prosecute him for?
MR. TONER: There is information, there's intelligence that, you know, is not necessarily usable in a court of law.
Q: So there — really? There is not — there isn't information out there that could be used to prosecute –
MR. TONER: I think that — I think that the Rewards for Justice announcement speaks for itself, insofar as saying that they're looking for evidence that can be used against him that implicates him in a court of law.
MR. TONER: Yeah, go ahead.
Q: There's something I don't understand, which is — and I went back, and I read the Rewards for Justice posting on it. And you know, the reasons given are fairly old reasons, including that he is suspected of masterminding the Mumbai attacks. That was, you know, three and a half years ago, right? Why now? I mean, why would it take, you know, years to decide to put him on the Rewards for Justice program?
MR. TONER: I mean, I — you know, first of all, as you saw with the 9/11 attacks, we don't ever necessarily — you know, there's no statute of limitations on these terrorist attacks — (audience member sneezes) — God bless you — statute of limitations on these kinds of terrorist attacks. I do know that there are — when we nominate someone for the Rewards for Justice, there's a legal process that needs to take place or an internal process that needs to take place in order to designate him. I'm not sure how long that process is and how — when it began, but it does take some amount of time. But I also –
MR. TONER: Not years, undoubtedly.
Q: I mean, well — did she — forgive me — but it was months, right? So I mean –
MR. TONER: Anyway.
Q: But I –
MR. TONER: (Inaudible.)
Q: I thought Toria had said yesterday or the day before as well that the Pakistanis were aware of this, and yet we've got a statement today from the foreign minister saying that the U.S. must provide concrete evidence if it wants Islamabad to act against it. So it would seem like there's some confusion on the part of the Pakistani government as well.
MR. TONER: On the contrary, I think it speaks to the fact that what we're looking for, which is people to step forward that provide that kind of evidence that the Pakistanis can then arrest this individual and try him.
Q: Well, Pakistan is saying they want the U.S. to provide that concrete evidence.
MR. TONER: I don't — I'm not aware that they said the U.S. I think that they are looking for usable evidence against him.
Q: To clarify –
MR. TONER: Yes.
Q: — so the U.S. doesn't have any concrete evidence at the — at the moment that can implicate him?
MR. TONER: Well, again, I think the announcement speaks very clearly to the fact that we're looking for evidence that can withstand judicial scrutiny against this individual, information that can be used against him to convict him in a court of law.
Q: And how does the timing of this announcement — does it in any way impact on U.S.-Pakistan relations when the parliament is debating the way forward? Is it –
MR. TONER: No. It has — it has nothing to do with the ongoing parliamentary review — I think Toria spoke to that — and be conflicted at all — and said that yesterday. It's — this is about a process in and of itself, separate and apart from our ongoing bilateral relations with Pakistan. It does, however, speak to the fact that, you know, we are in a shared struggle here and that individuals like this gentleman Hafiz Saeed, you know, are a threat to the region. It wasn't just six Americans killed. It was, you know, scores killed in 2008 attacks in Mumbai. And he's also — you know, he's been — his group has been responsible for many attacks in the region.
Q: Well — (inaudible) –
Q: Is it kind of no confidence in Pakistani government?
MR. TONER: Sorry?
Q: Is it kind of no-confidence vote in –
MR. TONER: Not at all. I think we're trying to work in concert with the Pakistani government in order to bring this guy to justice.
Q: Is there — I don't — I'm confused. If there is not any evidence, why is this guy a wanted terrorist? If you — if — I mean, you could put anyone's face and name up there and say, I'll give you 10 million (dollars) if you can give me some information that connects him to some attack someplace. Why — there's — there has to be something out there.
MR. TONER: Well, you know, there is, you know, information out there. I just can't –
Q: But it's — but it's –
MR. TONER: — speak to –
Q: But it can't be used in court?
MR. TONER: Correct.
Q: Well, that means that there is not any — that means that there's — (chuckles) — I don't get what kind of information you're talking about that –
MR. TONER: It's based on intelligence, and — (inaudible) — therefore –
Q: And that can't be used in court?
MR. TONER: Not to my understanding. But I can't talk about it in detail.
Q: But just to get back to the initial question, it's OK for him to be openly giving press conferences or to be goading the U.S.? I mean, is that –
MR. TONER: You know, he's — you know, he's — you know, he's free to do that, unfortunately, up to this moment. But we hope to put him behind bars.
Q: Did you — did you do this to try to put pressure on the Pakistanis?
MR. TONER: I just think we are trying to — you know, we have very close cooperation with India. We have very close cooperation, counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan, apart from our recent difficulties in the broader relationship. You know, we're — you know, there was a major attack in Mumbai in 2008. There's subsequent terrorist actions undertaken by this group. And you know, we are dogged in our pursuit of these individuals. I don't know that — it's not to put pressure on any one government. But we wanted to be able to provide Pakistan with the tools that they need to prosecute this individual. Yeah.
Q: Pakistani intelligence is traveling to New Delhi, to India, basically this spiritual shrine.
MR. TONER: That's right.
Q: So do you think this announcement at this time will move the initiative — the narrative back to the anti-militant fight and cooperation?
MR. TONER: Well, difficult for me to say. And you know, certainly, you know, we would refer you to the governments of India and Pakistan as to what he's going to discuss with the government there when he's on his trip. But you know, we want to see, obviously, ever closer counterterrorism cooperation. It's to — it's to everyone's interest.
Q: Just getting back to the — to the — this is to help the Pakistani prosecutors? Is that — so that's what this is — this is aimed at, getting him prosecuted in Pakistan, not in India or not –
MR. TONER: Not necessarily — not necessarily in Pakistan. I think we spoke to that in our taken question yesterday.
Q: Exactly, which is why –
MR. TONER: But he's — currently resides in Pakistan, obviously.
Q: So you're — do you want the — you're offering this reward for information not so that the Pakistani police would go arrest him or can find him, which they presumably can do now, but so that then they can prosecute him or ship him off to India to be prosecuted or ship him off here?
MR. TONER: I mean, we're — I think we said yesterday, we're looking for information to lead to his conviction in any U.S. or foreign court of law.
Q: Different topic?
MR. TONER: Please.
Q: Can we stay on — (inaudible)?
MR. TONER: Oh, I'm sorry, Keira (ph). I didn't mean to ignore you. Go — are you Pakistan too?
Q: Yeah. In –
MR. TONER: OK, we'll go to you, and then — (chuckles) –
Q: OK. In 2009, you — David Headley was arrested, and he testified in court in a plea bargain deal on the Mumbai attacks. Is the evidence — if the evidence isn't insufficient, then what about the testimony he gave, testifying that he was trained by Lashkar-e- Taiba to carry out the Mumbai attacks? Is that evidence then not usable because it was then used to convict someone else?
MR. TONER: You know what, I'm not — I'm — you know, I'm not conversant on the evidence that he gave in that case, so, you know, I'd have to refer you to — you know, to the relevant law enforcement agencies as well as to the lawyers. I just don't know if that — if any of the evidence that he gave would be usable. Yeah, go ahead.
Q: Do you — do you expect the Pakistani government to move against him? I mean, this guy clearly thinks that he can operate with immunity inside Pakistan.
MR. TONER: I think what we're looking to do is — as I just said to Arshad, I think we're trying to, through this Reward for Justice offer — is to first of all put this case back and this individual back in the limelight, but also to seek out information that we feel would give Pakistani authorities the tools or the — or you know, the wherewithal to prosecute him.