The US Department of State offered on Monday a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the location or identification of Salim Ayyash, an operative in the Lebanese group Hezbollah who was convicted of conspiring to kill former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in a 2005 bombing.
The US Rewards for Justice’s reward offer is also for information that leads to preventing him from engaging in an act of international terrorism against US persons or US property.
The United States deems Hezbollah, the heavily armed, Iran-backed group which is also a powerful political presence in Lebanon, to be a terrorist group. It has sanctioned several Hezbollah members, including its leader and deputy leader.
“Ayyash is a senior operative in Hezbollah’s Unit 121, the group’s assassination squad, which receives its orders directly from Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah. Ayyash is known to have been involved in efforts to harm US military personnel,” the statement read.
A UN-backed Lebanon Tribunal sentenced Ayyash to five terms of life imprisonment last December. The tribunal also issued a renewed arrest warrant and established an Interpol Red Notice for Ayyash.
He was found guilty in August of homicide and committing a terrorist act over the deaths of Hariri and 21 others in the attack on Beirut’s waterfront.
The trial was conducted in absentia and Ayyash remains at large. Three alleged accomplices were acquitted due to insufficient evidence.
Hariri’s assassination pitched Lebanon into what was then its worst crisis since its 1975-90 civil war, touching off years of confrontation between rival political and sectarian factions.
- With Reuters