Probably the most expensive manhunt in history has ended with the U.S. Navy SEALs storming the hideout of terror ring leader Osama Bin Laden and killing him. But now a multi-million-dollar question remains. And that is essentially about the millions of dollars the U.S. government had promised to give to anyone who decisively helped find the fugitive.
And, there is no consensus on who will get the bounty. Nor is it clear whether the amount will be $25 million as was originally announced by the State Department or $50 million the Congress authorized three years later.
A week after Bin Laden's death, not many serious contenders have staked a claim for the reward money. However, Gary Faulkner, who is known as the Bin Laden hunter, said he deserves a portion of the money.
What makes the situation complex is that it was essentially the U.S. intelligence network, not any single tipster, who blazed the trail to the terror fugitive's den.
Two members of the U.S. Congress have introduced a legislation to spend the money on the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack that Bin Laden masterminded. Reps. Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler say part of the money can be utilized to fund organization that provide healthcare and other supports to the victims of the attack.
These programs are ones that desperately need funding that are still everyday dealing with the ramifications of September 11 ... Hopefully they will now benefit from this reward money, Weiner said.
The bounty is part of the 'Rewards for Justice' program of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. More than a hundred million dollars have been given away from this fund since its creation in 1984. The purpose of the program is to fund people who provide actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide.
However, contrary to generally thought, the bounty maybe just $25 or less, not $50 million. Harry Edwards, a spokesman for the State Department, said the department does not generally discuss nominations for awards. He said the reward amount, if it were to be given away, would be a maximum of $25 million. If it were paid, it could be less, he added.
This is because the State Department had not officially authorized the Congress proposal to hike the amount to $50 million.
It is possible that the reward amount may never be granted to anyone. It would be impractical to suggest that some of the Guantanamo detainees, who gave key information about Bin Laden, should get it. But the truth is that the route to Bin Laden was complex and even captured Al-Qaeda operative gave valuable clues to his whereabouts.
The largest ever reward given by the State Department was $30 million given to a person who gave key information about the two sons of Saddam Hussein, who were killed eventually.