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A Different Way to Help
Charity Collects Funds to Pay Reward Money for Terrorists

Listen to Ina Jaffe's report on the Rewards for Justice Fund.

Reward for bin Laden

Bin Laden on the Diplomatic Security Service Web site
Photo: U.S. Dept. of State

Nov. 13, 2001 -- Since the attacks of Sept. 11, Americans longing to help have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to aid agencies. Groups such as the Red Cross are using the donations to help thousands affected by the World Trade Center disaster. But another little-known organization is funneling contributions in a very different direction.

The Rewards for Justice Fund, a non-profit charity, was started to let the public contribute directly to the government's fight against terrorism. A new marketing strategy, and some help from Internet professionals, is raising the profile of the Rewards for Justice Fund -- and raising a lot more money in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The money goes to pay for rewards offered by the State Department and claimed by people who have helped bring criminal suspects to justice. The charity was the brainchild of two businessmen, Scott Case and Joe Rutledge, who approached the State Department with the idea of creating an easy way for people to support an effort to apprehend terrorist suspects.

"It lets the American public have the opportunity to… become part of the cause, and bring international terrorists to justice. And when you’re… trying to get people to provide information, money talks."

Special Agent Walt Deering of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service

"We view ourselves no differently than people who went down to Ground Zero with water and sandwiches to help out the workers down there," Case told NPR's Ina Jaffe. "We were doing what we knew how to do -- bring together a marketing program, to bring a solution about."

Case says that about 100 million Internet advertisement "banners" have been distributed. A Web surfer clicking on one gets directed to the Rewards for Justice Fund, which describes how donations are used and gives directions for contributing funds electronically.

The fund received part of the proceeds from an all-star benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. that featured Michael Jackson, Bette Midler and the Backstreet Boys. And the state of Florida may soon issue United We Stand license plates, with the proceeds going to the fund.

Special Agent Walt Deering of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service says that the charity fund serves a purpose that goes beyond simply funneling money into the program. "It lets the American public have the opportunity to… become part of the cause, and bring international terrorists to justice," Deering says. "And when you're… trying to get people to provide information, money talks."

The reward program has paid out $8 million in rewards in recent years, involving 22 different incidents. Deering says most of the program's success stories are classified. One that isn't: the capture and conviction of Ramzi Youssef, who helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

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Other Resources

Rewards for Justice Fund Web site

Most wanted terrorists list Web site by the Diplomatic Security Service of the State Department

State Department Office for the Coordinator of Counterterrorism