CAIRO - Receiving an unlikely offer to help deal with the damage caused by the deadly superstorm Sandy, the United States officials have turned down an offer to help from one of their country's five most wanted Islamist militants, The Time magazine reported.
While we have great respect for Islamic tradition of social assistance to those who are in need no matter where they might be, this particular offer strikes us as very hollow, State Department spokesman Mark Toner, according to CNN.
The same message was revealed in a tweet by the US embassy in Islamabad.
Muslims Aid Storm-ravaged Americans
The issue came to light after Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charitable wing of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, offered donations for the storm-ravaged Americans.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa is ready to send its volunteers, doctors, food, medicines and other relief items on humanitarian grounds if the US government allows us, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a Pakistani Muslim with a $10 million bounty on his head, according to Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan.
In the 1980s Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group that the US accuses of being responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed 166 people. Saeed denies the allegation.
He now runs the charitable wing of the group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which has worked on disaster relief efforts in other countries.
In 2001 Jamaat-ud-Dawa was labeled a terrorist group by the US, and there is currently a $10 million reward for Saeed's capture.
Saeed said he is aware of the price on his head, but his Islamic duty motivated him to help.
America may have any opinion about us, it may fix bounties on our heads but as followers of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, we feel it is our Islamic duty to help Americans trapped in a catastrophe, he said.
His offer for help came in the wake of Hurricane Sandy which left millions of American people reeling after crashing ashore on Monday in New Jersey.
The biggest storm to hit the country in generations left a wide swath of the eastern United States struggling with epic flooding and extensive power outages, and the death toll climbed to at least 45.
Subway tracks and commuter tunnels under New York City, which carry several million people a day, were under several feet of water.
The lower half of Manhattan remained without power after a transformer explosion at a Con Edison substation Monday night.
Facing American rejection, the Pakistani group exhorted American Muslims to keep the tradition of Muslim charity alive.
Our offer was precisely due to the seriousness of the matter. We hope Muslims in the US will keep the tradition alive, Jamaat-ud-Dawa said in a tweet.
Despite American opposition, analysts said that Saeed's group was gaining a certain amount of legitimacy in Pakistan via its charity efforts.
The group's improved image is creating more difficulties for Washington, wrote Huma Yusuf, a Pakistani journalist, in The New York Times.
The offer, though seemingly absurd, highlights the challenge of curtailing the activities of extremist groups, which increasingly use public service to boost their appea, Yusuf wrote.
If the charitable efforts of Pakistani militants continue to gain legitimacy â¦ the US government will have an increasingly difficult time sidelining them.
Saeed's offer for help is not the first by American Muslims.
Following the disaster, Islamic Relief USA Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has been deployed to help residents of New Jersey being affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The Zakat Foundation of America, a leading Islamic charity, has also appealed for donations to help residents affected by the massive storm.