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Thursday, February 15, 2007

U.S. to pay millions for capture of Iran-backed terrorists

WASHINGTON — The United States has offered a reward of up to $5 million for agents of Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad.

The State Department has reported a U.S. search for agents of two Iranian-sponsored groups. On Monday, the department identified the targets as Hizbullah's Mohammed Ali Hamadei and Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah of Islamic Jihad, Middle East Newsline reported.
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has authorized the addition of Mohammed Ali Hamadei and Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah to the U.S. State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Rewards for Justice [RFJ] program, each with a potential reward of up to $5 million," the department said in a statement. "Hamadei and Shallah were added to RFJ's Most Wanted List at the request of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division; both are also on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list."

Officials said both men were responsible for the killing of Americans. Hamadei was said to have participated in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, in which U.S. sailor Robert Stethem was killed.

In 1985, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Hamadei on 15 charges for his role in planning and taking part in the hijacking. He was arrested by Germany in 1987 and paroled in 2005.

"Hamadei, an alleged member of the terrorist organization Lebanese Hizbullah, is believed to be living in Lebanon," the State Department said.

Officials said the department relayed a request to Lebanon for the arrest and extradition of Hamadei. They said the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora failed to act.

[On Tuesday, at least 12 people were killed in the bombing of two buses filled with laborers near a Christian town in northern Lebanon. There was no immediate claim of responsibility in what was regarded as an attack against the Christian community.]

Shallah, deemed a terrorist in 1995, was identified as secretary-general of Islamic Jihad. The State Department said Shallah, in a 1995 indictment, has been wanted for conspiracy in connection with Jihad suicide bombings, murder, extortion and money laundering.

Officials said Shallah was living in Damascus. They said Syria has refused to extradite Shallah.

"The FBI is working closely with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners to bring all necessary resources to bear to protect the American public from terrorist attacks and the nefarious activities from extremely dangerous terrorists like Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah and Mohammed Ali Hamadei," FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism Joseph Bill said.

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