- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

New information has directly linked Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11 terrorist attacks, with the on-camera killing of a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Law-enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say Mohammed was the man who slit the throat of Daniel Pearl while the U.S. reporter was being videotaped.

The officials said charges against Mohammed in the February 2002 killing are now more likely than before, but declined to elaborate on the new information.

Mohammed has long been a suspect in the Pearl slaying, and The Washington Times first reported in March that Mohammed was suspected of being the killer.

Mr. Pearl was kidnapped Jan. 23, 2002, in Karachi, Pakistan, while seeking an interview with a radical Muslim cleric. He was killed Feb. 20 when his throat was slit as he was being videotaped.

In Pakistan, intelligence officials in that country told reporters yesterday that they had “no evidence or credible information” linking Mohammed to the Pearl killing. A senior Interior Ministry official said Mohammed was questioned in the slaying but denied any involvement.

Initially, a group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claimed credit for the kidnapping, demanding that suspected Taliban guerrillas and al Qaeda terrorists be released from U.S. custody.

In February, Pakistani police arrested Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, an Islamic militant, and a Pakistani court later sentenced him to death in the killing. That sentence is now pending on appeal.

Since his arrest in March, Mohammed has been linked by U.S. authorities not only to the September 11 attacks that killed more than 3,000 people, but to the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, an attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and a scheme in the Philippines to blow up 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific Ocean.

U.S. federal agents and a Pakistani security force arrested Mohammed, the top lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, on March 1 in a house in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, owned by Ahmed Abdul Qadoos, a member of Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious party with Pakistan’s third-largest voting bloc.

Agents seized secret al Qaeda documents, computer disks, cell phones and other records. The documents included the names of al Qaeda operatives in the United States, scattered throughout the country in “sleeper cells,” including some in the nation’s capital, authorities said. Mohammed not only planned al Qaeda’s major operations but also chose all its recruits.

In a statement, Wall Street Journal spokeswoman Brigitte Trafford said: “We continue to hope that all those responsible for Danny’s kidnap and murder are brought to justice.”

Mr. Pearl had gone to Karachi to interview Sheik Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, head of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra terror organization, which has established Muslim communes in Virginia, California and New York. As many as 400 Gilani followers live on three Virginia communes.

Jamaat al-Fuqra is committed to waging jihad, or holy war, against the United States.

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