- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistan has warned U.S. and other foreign diplomatic missions and businesses to boost their security, fearing that the slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl may signal a wider plan to thwart President Pervez Musharraf's drive against extremism.
Pakistani officials vowed to redouble efforts to arrest at least four key suspects still at large. Those efforts include "maximum cooperation" with the FBI, which has been allowed to interview suspects already in custody, a Pakistani Foreign Office official said yesterday.
Ahmed Omar Saeed, the British-born Islamic militant police believe masterminded Mr. Pearl's abduction, has told his interrogators that his group wanted to teach a lesson to the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition, and that Mr. Pearl's slaying was just a first step, two Pakistani intelligence officials said on the condition of anonymity.
Saeed had already surrendered and confessed by the time Mr. Pearl's killing was revealed Friday through a gruesome videotape that investigators say showed images of the journalist being forced to acknowledge he was Jewish and then getting his throat slit.
When and where the journalist was killed is not known. His body has not been found, and one investigator said yesterday that it will be difficult to find unless the remaining suspects are apprehended.
With Saeed in custody, the main target of a massive manhunt is Amjad Farooqi, the man believed to have carried out the kidnapping.
The government told foreign missions, embassies and dignitaries to take extra security precautions in the wake of Mr. Pearl's murder, Interior Ministry officials in the capital, Islamabad, said. They added that attacks on U.S. interests in Pakistan cannot be ruled out.
Meanwhile, the man who delivered the videotape confirming Mr. Pearl's killing to U.S. officials was being held for questioning in Karachi, the southern port city where Mr. Pearl was abducted on Jan. 23, the officials said.
Pakistani authorities believe Mr. Pearl's killing may be part of a larger terrorist scheme to destabilize the country following Gen. Musharraf's Jan. 12 pledge to rid Pakistan of Muslim extremism in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack in the United States.
After U.S. and Pakistani authorities revealed the contents of the videotape Friday, Gen. Musharraf vowed to fight terrorists with an "iron hand" and called President Bush to reiterate the South Asian country's resolve to help fight the war on terror.
Yet there are concerns about continuing close ties between Pakistani intelligence agencies and Islamic militant groups forged through years of fighting shared enemies in Afghanistan and the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
Another sore point is how Saeed, the main suspect, came to arrive in police custody. Police said they arrested him on Feb. 12, but the suspect told a court two days later that he had surrendered on Feb. 5.
Investigators now privately acknowledge that Saeed had been in the custody of intelligence officers since Feb. 5, and that neither the FBI nor Pakistani police were alerted. A senior Pakistani official said the FBI formally complained to Pakistan for not having been informed.
Saeed stunned a courtroom on Feb. 14 by confessing to the kidnapping and saying that he believed Mr. Pearl was already dead.
Despite these irritations, both U.S. and Pakistani officials insisted yesterday that their anti-terrorism alliance is intact.
There is "very close cooperation with Pakistani officials at all levels," U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin told CNN.
Before his abduction, Mr. Pearl had been investigating a story on suspected links between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, who was arrested in December for purportedly trying to ignite explosives in his sneakers during a Paris-Miami flight.


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