Author Topic: Obscure tip line at center of Benghazi dispute has history of big payouts for terror intel  (Read 260 times)

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Offline happyg

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By Barnini Chakraborty

WASHINGTON –  A little-known federal program that doles out millions for tips on terrorists is now in the spotlight after lawmakers questioned how it was being employed in the Benghazi attack investigation.

State Department officials revealed recently, despite lawmakers being kept in the dark, that they’re quietly offering a multi-million dollar monetary sum through the “Rewards for Justice” program for information leading to the suspects in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack.

The admission prompted Republicans to question how effective the hush-hush offer can really be. Despite the current dispute, a look back at the decades-old program shows it’s been used repeatedly in the past to help bring wanted terrorists to justice -- while making some fortunate tipsters very rich in the process.

The program is set up similar to the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, and has netted several accused high-profile terror leaders by offering huge sums for information on them.

In most cases, payments are capped at $5 million or less. The reward for tips on 12 of the most wanted in Afghanistan ranges from $20,000-$200,000.

To date, RFJ has paid more than $125 million to 80 informants, according to the State Department. The program has helped track down, capture or kill 12 terror leaders, including Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the man who plotted the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In most cases, the federal government cannot disclose who made the tip.

"They're putting themselves at great risk," a State Department official said of the tipsters.

But the official told the payouts have increased since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. "If nothing [else], I think awareness of terrorism definitely went up," the official said. "People took it as a scourge that really must be stopped."

During the Persian Gulf War, one tipster from an East Asian country came forward with information about a series of planned terrorist attacks 48 hours before they took place. Authorities were able to foil the plot and the tipster and his family was relocated.

In another case, a woman studying at a foreign university witnessed an attack on a U.S. diplomat. The information she provided led to two of the attackers receiving life sentences. The tipster and her family were also relocated, according to the State Department.

While the identity of tipsters typically remains confidential, there have been four public reward ceremonies in the Philippines, with the latest one occurring on June 7, 2007. The combined reward amounts for those ceremonies reached $10 million, according to the State Department.

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