The List March 2004

America's Most Wanted

Washington is paying more and more to find its Most Wanted

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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