Rewards for Justice Program

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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.[1]


A State Department representative publicly hands over a payment to an informant whose information led to the killing of Khadaffy Janjalani and Jainal Antel Sali, Jr., leaders of the Filipino militant group Abu Sayyaf.

The program was established by the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism (Public Law 98-533),[2] and it is administered by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The Rewards for Justice Program was formerly known as the Counter-Terror Rewards Program, soon shortened to the HEROES program. In 1993, DS launched[3] 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.[4][5] By 1997, the site was getting more than one million hits a year from 102 countries.[6] Smith is also credited with the idea to put photos of wanted terrorists on matchbook covers.[4] 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.[7] 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."[7] 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.[8][9][10][11] Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented a list of "the five most wanted terrorists" to Pakistan;[12] the list included Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohammed Omar, Ilyas Kashmiri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Sirajuddin Haqqani.[12] Each of these five had bounties issued against them by the program;[13] 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.[13] Rahman was killed in an airstrike in North Waziristan in August 2011.[14] Omar died of tuberculosis in Karachi, Pakistan in April 2013.[15] Al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan in July 2022.[16]

A Rewards for Justice bounty post

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.[17] It marked the first time that RFJ offered a reward for information leading to a terrorist financier.[18]

In April 2020, Rewards for Justice Program offered $5 million for information leading to identify North Korean hackers threatening the United States.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Success Stories". Washington, DC, U.S.A.: Rewards for Justice. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Public Law 98-53, An Act to Combat International Terrorism, Oct. 19, 1984" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  3. ^ "Bureau of Diplomatic Security". April 27, 1997. Archived from the original on 1997-04-27.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #12, 99-01-26". Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  5. ^ "1/26/99: Death of Diplomatic Security Special Agent Brad Smith". Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  6. ^ Tiboni, Frank; Aug 24, 1998. "State Web site gathers tips on embassy blasts -". GCN. Retrieved 2019-11-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b Whitlock, Craig (17 May 2008). "Bounties a Bust in Hunt for Al-Qaeda". Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Diplomatic Security Service announces $5 million dollar reward". U.S. Department of State. 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  9. ^ "Briefing of USG efforts to disrupt and dismantle Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 2010-09-05. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  10. ^ "Millions of dollars available for information leading to the capture of Terrorists". DSS Rewards for Justice. 27 May 2011.
  11. ^ "U.S. Pressures Pakistan to Go After Ayman Zawahiri and Other Militant Leaders". ABC News. 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  12. ^ a b "US draws up a list of 5 most wanted terrorists to be hit - PTI". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  13. ^ a b "Wanted for Terrorism". Rewards for Justice. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  14. ^ Mazzetti, Mark (27 August 2011). "C.I.A. Drone Is Said to Kill Al Qaeda's No. 2". The New York Times. Washington. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Afghan intel agency: Taliban leader died two years ago". USA Today. 29 July 2015.
  16. ^ "US kills al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in drone strike in Afghanistan". CNN. 2 August 2022.
  17. ^ "U.S. Offers $10M for Iran-Based Al Qaeda Financier". NewsCore. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  18. ^ "Briefing on New Rewards for Justice Reward Offer". U.S. Department of State. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  19. ^ "U.S. Government Offers $5 Million Reward To Identify North Korean Hackers". Forbes. 16 April 2020.

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