Mere hours after the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a daring raid inside Pakistan, talk quickly turned to the bounty that had been placed on his head.
What happens to the standing $25 million reward offered on Bin Laden now that he’s dead?
For nearly 10 long years multiple intelligence agencies sought the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Despite pressure from the U.S. government -- who expected results -- and the public -- who demanded the No. 1 most wanted man in the world -- cooler heads prevailed within the CIA, FBI and an assortment of other agencies as they patiently tracked Bin Laden’s whereabouts.
Then, finally, on Sunday evening President Barack Obama made it known to the world that American forces had cornered and eventually killed Bin Laden in what he could only describe as "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda.”
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So who gets the big bucks for this monumental U.S. victory? Could it be the trusted "courier," who became known to U.S. military officials via interrogation at Guantanamo Bay? Is it another, unknown confidant, who secretly betrayed Osama in the years and months leading up to the execution? (Note: On Tuesday we learned the courier didn't know the U.S. Government had monitored one of his own phone calls months ago. This courier, who was killed in the operation, led the Americans to the compound -- and ultimately to Bin Laden.)
"The department does not generally discuss nominations for awards," said Harry Edwards, a spokesman for the State Department. The offer, he added, is for a maximum of $25 million. "If it were paid, it could be less."
Reward money has always been utilized as a powerful weapon in the war against terrorism. The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security-run Reward for Justice Program has paid out over $100 million to more than 60 people since its inception.
In the past, rewards were handed out for the capture of other big-name international terrorists, including the convicted bomber responsible for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Ramzi Yousef. The largest such reward ever paid by the program, though, was $30 million -- which was paid out for information on the sons of Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Currently, the government is offering up to $25 million for information on al Qaeda’s second-in-command, and the reported heir apparent to Bin Laden: Ayman Al-Zawahiri.