- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

KARACHI, Pakistan Three Pakistani militants who led police to the body of Daniel Pearl say the Wall Street Journal correspondent was killed by an Arab two days after he tried to escape from kidnappers, investigators said yesterday.
The new reports on Mr. Pearl's kidnapping and slaying do not exonerate British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed, who was convicted with three others July 15. Saeed was sentenced to death by hanging, and the others received life sentences.
However, the claims, which have been rumored for weeks in Pakistan, could influence an appeal filed by Saeed and the others with the High Court in Sindh province. Some of the new reports conflict with evidence presented at the first trial.
A United Press International report on Aug. 6 said Pakistani police were holding four men believed to be responsible for the slaying, but were reluctant to announce the arrests for fear that those already convicted would get a new trial.
That report quoted a security official saying Saeed and his accomplices were responsible for the kidnapping, which is a capital crime in Pakistan.
Mr. Pearl, 38, was abducted Jan. 23 in Karachi while researching links between Pakistani Islamic extremists and Richard C. Reid, who was arrested in December after he reportedly tried to set off explosives in his shoe during a flight from Paris to Miami.
Two police investigators, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said three militants Naeem Bukhari, Fazal Karim and Zubair Chishti have admitted a role in Mr. Pearl's kidnapping. However, they have not been charged, and Pakistani authorities have not acknowledged officially that they are being held.
According to the two police officers, the militants said Saeed telephoned them on the evening of Jan. 23 and told them Mr. Pearl was en route to the Village Restaurant, where he expected to meet an Islamic activist who was supposedly trying to arrange an interview with a prominent cleric.
Mr. Pearl was put in one car, which was followed by another vehicle containing three other kidnappers, police said. They said the two vehicles followed Mr. Bukhari, who led the convoy on a motorcycle to the shack where Mr. Pearl was to be held.
According to the two investigators, Mr. Pearl tried to escape as he was being led to the toilet during his sixth day in captivity. However, he was tackled by Mr. Karim and Mr. Chishti, who beat him and shot him in the leg.
The struggle made so much noise that students at a nearby Islamic school ran out onto the roof to see what was happening, police said.
A day after the escape attempt, police said, Mr. Bukhari told his fellow kidnappers that they must kill Mr. Pearl, although the officers said it was not clear who gave the order for his slaying.
The kidnappers waited a day while they deliberated issuing a ransom demand, the officers said. On the ninth day of the kidnapping, three Arabs, who the suspects believed to have been Yemenis, were brought to the hide-out, the police said. The two officers said the militants told them the Arabs were associates of Ramzi Yousef the imprisoned mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Police said the kidnappers began asking Mr. Pearl a series of questions about his religion and his background as one of the Arabs filmed it with a video camera.
Suddenly, Mr. Karim seized Mr. Pearl's hands and one of the Arabs slit his throat, the officers said. The slaying was supposed to have been recorded, but "the cameraman lost his nerve," one of the policemen said. The videotape was later sent to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, confirming Mr. Pearl was dead.
The effect of the new reports on the case against Saeed and the three others is not clear.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide