April 16, 2012
British Labour peer Lord Nazir Ahmed allegedly offered a bounty for US President Barack Obama. Photo: AP
A senior British Labour figure has been suspended by the party while it investigates reports that he offered a £10 million ($15.4 million) "bounty" for the capture of US President Barack Obama.
Labour peer Nazir Ahmed is said to have offered the cash for the capture of Obama and his White House predecessor, George W Bush, at a reception in Pakistan in response to an American reward for the capture of a prominent Pakistani radical.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who founded the violent extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, is blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed.
A Labour spokeswoman said: "We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation.
"If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable.
"The international community is rightly doing all in its power to seek justice for the victims of the Mumbai bombings and halt terrorism."
Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper said the remarks were made at a reception in Haripur on Friday.
It said the peer called the US bounty on Saeed "an insult to all Muslims".
"If the US can announce a reward of $US10 million ($9.6 million) for the captor of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of £10 million on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush," he is reported to have said.
He added that he would sell his house to fund it if necessary, the newspaper said.
Lord Ahmed firmly denied offering a bounty - but said he had told the meeting that Bush and ex-Labour prime minister Tony Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes.
Speaking from Pakistan, he said no one from Labour had contacted him before announcing the suspension and challenged the party to provide evidence for the decision.
"They have suspended me? That's a surprise to me. I did not know."
Asked about the reported comments, he said: "I never said those words.
"I did not offer a bounty. I said that there have been war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and those people who have got strong allegations against them - George W Bush and Tony Blair have been involved in illegal wars and should be brought to justice.
"I do not think there's anything wrong with that."
He added: "If the Labour Party want to suspend me I will deal with the Labour Party. They will have to give me some evidence."