The Rewards for Justice Program (RFJ) is the counterterrorism rewards program of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. The Secretary of State is currently offering rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. persons or property worldwide. Rewards also may be paid for information leading to the arrest or conviction of terrorists attempting, committing, conspiring to commit, or aiding and abetting in the commission of such acts. The Rewards for Justice Program has paid more than $145 million for information that prevented international terrorist attacks or helped bring to justice those involved in prior acts.
The program was established by the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism (Public Law 98-533), and it is administered by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The program was established by the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism (Public Law 98-533), and it is administered by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Rewards for Justice was formally known as the Counter-Terror Rewards Program the name was soon shortened to the HEROES program. In 1993, DS launched www.hereos.net to help publicize reward information. Brad Smith, a DSS special agent assigned to desk duty due to illness, served as the lone site administrator and program manager running the operation from his home.  By 1997, the site was getting more than one million hits a year from 102 countries. Smith is also cred with the idea to put photos of wanted terrorists on matchbook covers. DSS agents assigned to embassies and consulates throughout the world ensured that the matchbooks got wide distribution at bars and restaurants.
The Director of the Diplomatic Security Service chairs an interagency committee which reviews reward candidates and then recommends rewards to the Secretary of State. The committee includes members from the staff of the White House National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. State Department.
After the September 11 attacks, the list of wanted terrorists increased dramatically, and rewards were also increased, as part of the U.S. efforts to capture al-Qaeda leadership. However, the plan has been largely ineffective against Islamic terrorists. The largest reward offered was $25 million for the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, which had "attracted hundreds of anonymous calls but no reliable leads." Osama bin Laden was shot and killed inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group and Central Intelligence Agency operatives in a covert operation on May 1, 2011.
Robert A. Hartung, Assistant Director of Diplomatic Security's Threat Investigations and Analysis Directorate, announced on 2 September 2010 that the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program is offering rewards of up to $5 million each for information that leads law enforcement or security forces to Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali ur Rehman. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented a list of "the five most wanted terrorists" to Pakistan; the list included Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohammed Omar, Ilyas Kashmiri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Sirajuddin Haqqani. Each of these five have bounties issued against them by the program; however, Kashmiri, who US Intelligence officials said they were 99% sure was killed in an airstrike in South Waziristan on June 3, 2011, was removed from the list. Rahman was killed in an airstrike in North Waziristan in August 2011 and was removed from the list. Omar was removed from the list in July 2015 after the Afghan government publicly announced that he had died of tuberculosis in 2013.
On December 22, 2011, RFJ announced a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil (aka Yasin al-Suri), the leader of an al-Qaeda fundraising network in Iran that transfers money and recruits via Iranian territory to Pakistan and Afghanistan. It marked the first time that RFJ offered a reward for information leading to a terrorist financier.
The latest Islamic terrorist leaders wanted by the program are Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, for whom $25 million is offered, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, at $25 million.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rewards for Justice.|