This week our cup runneth over. We offer you, dear readers, not one bad guy, but 26 of them all top terrorism suspects wanted by the U.S. government. They're featured on nifty new posters being sent to U.S. airports by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Department of Homeland Security.
It seems doubtful that Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants will be frequenting American airports this holiday season, but the poster is part of a broader, successful program in which the State Department offers fat rewards for tips leading to terrorists worldwide. Since the program's inception in 1984, Washington has paid out more than $62 million to over 40 people. The biggest single payment$30 millionwent for tips that led to the death of Saddam Hussein's murderous sons, Uday and Qusay. (That tipster is understandably no longer in Iraq.) Often, the payments are made by wire transfer, but in some cases, diplomatic security agents have actually delivered suitcases of cash to informants.
State Department officials say the program dubbed Rewards for Justice has saved thousands of lives, disrupted plots in their final stages, and put some of the world's most dangerous terrorists out of commission. Among those nabbed: Ramzi Yousef, a key operative behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; Colombian FARC guerilla Edgar Gustavo Navarro, wanted for kidnapping three American contractors; and Hamsiraji Marusi Sali, a leader of the Philippines' Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. Rewards are advertised in multiple languages on posters, matchbooks, radio and newspaper ads, and the Internet. More than 500 of the new wanted posters are being sent out this month.
The rewards program began in response to terrorist attacks in Beirut, but was expanded under Brad Smith, an innovative State Department officer. Smith, who suffered from Lou Gherig's disease, ran the program until his untimely death in 1999. His heroic efforts have led to interest in his story from Hollywood, according to Smith's old pals. "This guy was a genuine hero," says Larry Johnson, who worked closely with him on counterterrorism at the State Department.
To see a larger version of this poster, click inside it for a PDF file.
Photo credit: U.S. Department of State