“Deceased” bin Laden opens up slot on FBI’s 10 most wanted list

May 2, 2011

The FBI’s list of “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” has a new opening now that Osama bin Laden is dead.

The bureau wasted no time at all slapping the word “Deceased” in big white letters on a red background at the bottom of his photograph less than 12 hours after President Barack Obama announced to the world during a dramatic late-night statement.

The al Qaeda leader, killed in a U.S. helicopter raid on a mansion compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, was among those on the “Most Wanted Terrorists” list when then-President George W. Bush went to FBI headquarters for its unveiling after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Bin Laden already had been on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list and the U.S. government had offered a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to his capture. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to say whether any of the reward would be paid out.

He was added in 1999 after the al Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and in Kenya a year earlier. Bin Laden has been the only person on both lists, which appear on the FBI’s Web site.

An FBI spokesman said bin Laden will be replaced. FBI field offices will submit possible candidates to headquarters for the fugitives list, a process in which FBI Director Robert Mueller gives final approval.

Here’s the FBI’s criteria:

First, the individual must have a lengthy record of committing serious crimes and be considered a particularly dangerous menace to society. Second, it must be believed that the publicity afforded by the program can be of assistance in apprehending the fugitive.

The fugitives list began in 1950 under the legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Of the 494 fugitives who have appeared on the list, bin Laden became No. 464 to be apprehended or located.

Potential candidates could be some of bin Laden’s deputies or even maybe Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, but that would require the United States bringing charges against him.

– Photo credit: FBI (Most wanted list); Reuters/Chip East (people congregate in Times Square underneath news ticker.)


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