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U.S. offers $10 million for alleged al Qaeda financier

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:41 PM EST, Thu December 22, 2011

(CNN) -- The United States is offering a reward of up to $10 million for the capture of alleged al Qaeda financier Yasin al-Suri, the State Department said Thursday.

The Syrian-born al-Suri is a senior al Qaeda operative based in Iran, officials say.

The government said that al-Suri has been responsible for moving hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as terrorist recruits from Iran to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And an indication of his links to the Iranian government, the United States says he has arranged for the release of al-Qaeda operatives from Iranian prisons and their transfer to Pakistan.

"As a key fundraiser for the al Qaeda terrorist network, he is a continuing danger to the interests of the United States, to its facilities and its citizens," State Department official Robert Hartung said. "Locating al-Suri and shutting down his operation will eliminate a significant financial resource for al Qadea."

The United States says al-Suri is only 29, and is of Kurdish descent. He also uses the names Izz al-Din Abd al-Farid Khalil and Zayn al-Abadin, the State Department says.

Anyone interested in the award of up to $10 million, which is being offered through the Rewards for Justice program, can contact U.S. officials directly or online, and remain anonymous.

"We want a specific location," Hartung said. "I'm not aware of anyone else Rewards for Justice has located in Iran. Once we receive information, that is provided to other government agencies to handle that information and decide how to act."

The reward and the new focus on al-Suri increases pressure on Iran, with a U.S. official emphasizing that he operates inside Iran with permission of top officials.

"We have reliable information indicating there is an agreement between the Iranian government and this al Qaeda network," said Eytan Fisch, assistant director of terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department

The Rewards for Justice Program was established in 1984 and has paid some $100 million to more than 70 people for information about terrorists. Rewards go as high as $25 million, for informtion for al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In the past, $10 million rewards generated information that led to the detention of Saddam Hussein's two sons in Iraq and of 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef.

Afghanistan Taliban leader Mullah Omar has had a $10 million reward on his head for a decade but remains at large.

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