British politician makes waves, is accused of offering bounty for capture of Obama, Bush

The Takeaway

U.S. officials recently announced they were offering a reward of $10 million for information that would lead to the arrest of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group that is widely suspected of organizing the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people died.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, 53, a controversial British politician and member of the House of Lords, has followed that up with his own proposal: a bounty of £10 million for the capture of President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush. Ahmed is said to have made the comments at a conference in Haripur in Pakistan a week ago.

A Labour Party spokesman said Ahmed had been suspended pending an investigation into the allegations, said BBC reporter Rob Watson. Ahmed denies the comments and has demanded the Labour Party produce evidence he made these comments.

“There are two Pakistani newspaper reports, one from Lahore and one from another location. Both newspapers report that same kind of thing, and that is that Lord Ahmed had offered a counter-bounty of £10 million,” Watson said. “It’s even more than $10 million for the capture of President Obama or his predecessor, President Bush.”

No recordings of the comments have been produced so far, which has complicated matters somewhat.

Watson said it’s not uncommon for there to be shocking rhetoric in the U.K.’s legislative bodies, but thinks this situation is somewhat different.

“I think the Labour Party has definitely not got a sense of humor or any sense of tolerance over this one,” Watson said. “I think they just feel that if this was what he said, no matter what the context and no matter where he was, you just can’t say that. You can’t go offering bounties no matter how rhetorical it might be.”

Watson said Ahmed has always been a controversial figure in the U.K., inviting controversial figures to Parliament. He’s not considered to be a major figure in the Labour Party, so Watson said the opposition party likely won’t face much political backlash for Ahmed’s comments.

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