The List March 2004

America's Most Wanted

Washington is paying more and more to find its Most Wanted
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The United States began putting prices on the heads of international terrorists in 1984, following a series of hijackings, bombings, and assassinations targeting Americans, mostly in the Middle East. The State Department implemented a program called Rewards for Justice, which initially worked like an old-time bounty list: money was offered in return for information on specific criminals and terrorists. In 1988 the State Department made the program open-ended: informants may be paid for information about any terrorists or would-be terrorists, whether or not they are on its list.

The price for information is rising as terrorist acts increase. Rewards were initially capped at $500,000; they are now capped at $5 million, although the Secretary of State can exceed that figure at his discretion. To prevent retribution, the rewards are given privately and the names of the informants are withheld; but the State Department, hoping to attract more informants, is seeking ways to publicize the granting of rewards. As for domestic criminals and terrorists, the FBI determines rewards on a case-by-case basis (and does not come close to matching State Department prices).

The list below shows the prices put on certain terrorists and criminals.

1. $25 million Saddam HusseinA, the former President of Iraq; Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and three other top al-Qaeda leaders—Saif al-Adel, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Khalid Sheikh MohammedB

2. $15 million each Qusay Hussein and Uday HusseinC, Saddam's sons

3. $10 million Izzat Ibrahim al-Doori, the former vice-chairman of the Iraqi Republican Command Council, who is believed to have organized attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq

4. $5 million Countless people, including Jamal Mohammad al-Badawi and Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, Yemenis suspected in the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole; ten men implicated in the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; Abdul Rahman YasinD, suspected of participation in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; and twenty-three men, including the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for war crimes in Rwanda and Bosnia

5. $2.5 million The 2001 anthrax mailer or mailers

6. $2 million Ramzi YousefB, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; those responsible for the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103B

7. $1 million Eleven former top Iraqi officials; James "Whitey" Bulger, an alleged Boston mobster suspected of involvement in numerous murders; Eric RudolphA, suspected of bombing an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1998, and of the 1996 Olympic Park bombing, in Atlanta; and the Panamanian dictator Manuel NoriegaA

8. $500,000 The Washington, D.C.-area snipersE

9. $200,000 Lower-level former Iraqi officials—those not on the deck-of-cards most-wanted list

10. $50,000 Everyone on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list except for bin Laden and Bulger, including Richard Steve Goldberg, a creator of child pornography in Long Beach, California; and Robert Fisher, who murdered his wife and two children and then blew up the family house in Scottsdale, Arizona

A Captured, no reward paid; B Captured, reward paid; C Killed in combat, reward paid; D Reward initially $2 million; E Reward to be administered after trials

Christopher Shea writes a column about academia for The Boston Globe's "Ideas" section.
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