3 charged with abetting Pearl’s kidnapping
KARACHI- Police on Friday laid their first charges in relation to the abduction of US correspondent Daniel Pearl and detained another suspect but the chief suspects have not been found. Three men were charged with aiding and abetting the kidnap after admitting during three days of interrogation to sending e-mails containing photos of Pearl in captivity and death threats. “We have arrested them formally in connection with the kidnapping case … They have a role in this case,” the Sindh police chief, Kamal Shah.
The three charged are a former police intelligence officer Adil Sheikh, and cousins Suleman Saqib and Fawad, said to be members of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad group, were nabbed in a raid in Karachi.
Investigators said the latest man detained, identified as Noman, was suspected of involvement in sending the e-mails. “Police raided a house on tips gathered from other detainees,” a police source said.
Police said they now had 14 suspects in custody but none of the four main suspects have been caught. Police have identified British-born Sheikh Omar, said to be a leader of US-listed “terrorist” group Jaish-e-Mohammad, as the chief suspect behind the kidnapping but appeared no closer to tracking him down. The three charged said they sent the e-mails at the behest of Omar, who disappeared from his home along with his wife and baby days before Pearl’s abduction.
Muhammad Hashim Qadeer, Mohammad Bashir and Imtiaz Siddiqui are also named suspects on the belief that they helped arrange an interview between Pearl and Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, leader of another militant group, Tanzeem-ul-Fuqra. Authorities have backed down from their earlier optimism of finding Pearl soon, and were tight-lipped about the investigation progress. They are under pressure to solve the case before President Pervez Musharraf heads to the US next week for talks with President George Bush.
Despite not having heard anything from Pearl’s abductors for more than a week, investigators say they are hopeful the reporter is still alive somewhere in Pakistan. “I personally feel, this is a hunch, that he is alive,” said Sindh Home Secretary Brigadier Mukhtar Ahmed. He said the course of the investigation also led him to believe Pearl was still in Karachi, but he declined to give more details. Mukhtar denied a US news report of negotiations between the government and the kidnappers, insisting there had been no contact apart from the two emails.
Source: The News