Breakthrough in Pearl case
KARACHI- Investigators believe the kidnapping episode of Daniel Pearl may end ‘in a day or two’ as they are closing in on the gang that abducted the US journalist on January 23 from Karachi.
Two prime suspects, who had sent the earlier two e-mails with Daniel’s pictures, have been arrested by the joint Pak-US probe team and the computers and scanner used by them have been recovered. Some more suspects have also been arrested in Lahore and Karachi in what sources claim to be a major breakthrough in the case.
‘We are very very close to solving this case,’ Sindh Home Secretary Mukhtar Ahmed Shah told a group of journalists who interviewed him in Karachi Tuesday. ‘Could be today or tomorrow. In any case very soon.’
The investigators are pinning their hopes on untangling certain telltale kidnapping knots. Some traces were apparently left behind by the kidnappers and it is now certain that at least one of them has been a member of a militant wing of a religio-political party.
The ray of hope that Daniel may still be alive and return unharmed comes amidst appeals by Daniel’s wife Mariane requesting to free her husband and the management of Wall Street Journal that has offered kidnappers to open a private ‘line of communication’ through phone, e-mail or post. Steve Goldstein, the New York based Vice President of Dow Jones and spokesman for Wall Street Journal, told that the management had made an appeal to the kidnappers to establish contact with them.
The joint Pakistan-US probe team believes that all persons involve in the kidnapping, which has become an embarrassing episode for President MusharrafÂ’s government, taking place just when he is about to start his US visit, are alive.
‘None of them is dead, we believe,’ Jameel Yusuf, the chief of Citizens-Police Liaison Committee said, while rejecting reports that one of the prime suspect Arif was dead. Arif along with other two prime suspects, Bashir and Imtiaz Siddiqui, is still missing.
Police in Karachi have also arrested some family members of Shaikh Omair, a Jaish-i-Mohammad activist who was released with Maulana Masood Azhar.
For the last almost one week the kidnappers have not made any contact with the police or newspaper offices raising concerns about Danny’s safety. ‘Silence doesn’t mean he has been killed,’ Yusuf said while referring to his vast experience in tracking down kidnappers. CPLC has so far busted 400 kidnappers since it was set up and is being replicated by the United Nations for controlling the incidence of serious crimes in other big cities of the world, particularly South Asia.
‘A lot of investigation is going on,’ Yusuf said disclosing that at least half a dozen FBI agents are also among the team of investigators that has launched a countrywide operation to comb the links of kidnappers and their possible hideouts.
Yusuf believed the kidnapping was masterminded by a groups of four or five ‘boys’ who are against present government’s policies. ‘I don’t believe it’s Gilani,’ Yusuf, who has been involved in the investigation since day one, said. Mubarik Shah Gilani was arrested by the police last week as he was the person whom Daniel Pearl wanted to meet to find his suspected link with the shoe-bomber Richard Reid.
Yusuf, however, claimed that at least one phone call was made by one of the kidnappers to New Delhi. He would not elaborate.
Following is the text of Wall Street Journal appeal:
An Open Letter from Paul Steiger, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, to the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty
Monday, February 4, 2002, 6:00 ET.
“I know that the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty is very serious and wants others to know about its movement. To assure that this happens it is important for you to respond to this message. I have not heard from you for several days and want to begin a dialogue that will address your concerns and bring about Danny’s safe release. Since your last e-mail I have received numerous e-mails from people who claim that they are holding Danny. Because of these claims, it has become difficult for me to know that I am communicating with the people holding Danny. These individuals have caused a great deal of confusion. Also these numerous messages, which have been made public, detract from your serious concerns. The world is getting a mixed message, and perhaps a negative impression of the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. We could resolve this situation if we could communicate more privately and more often. I suggest that we use an e-mail account of one of DannyÂ’s close friends, such as either of the two best men at his wedding, or a private phone line of one of these friends, or even a letter mailed to such a person. This line of communication would show me that Danny is with you and would allow us one-to-one contact. We are eager to hear from you soon.
Respectfully, Paul Steiger”
Source: The Nation