Computer crazy kid accused over Pearl kidnap email -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Computer crazy kid accused over Pearl kidnap email

KARACHI- His father describes him as a kid who was “crazy about computers” but not interested in politics.

Last week, Pakistani police arrested 21-year Fawwad Naseem, accusing him of having sent two grim emails containing photographs of kidnapped US reporter Daniel Pearl, bound in chains and with a gun to his head.

The emails, the first sent from kidnapperguy@hotmail.com, said Pearl was being kept in “inhumane” conditions to protest against US treatment of Taleban and al Qaeda prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I don’t know how this happened to him,” Fawwad’s nervous father said, sitting on a couch in his modest home in the southern city of Karachi. “His mother and I, we are very disturbed.”

Pakistani investigators say the FBI helped them trace the emails back to the Cyber Speed Internet cafe in Karachi’s eastern Gulistan-e-Jauhar district.

From there, police say the trail led swiftly to Fawwad, who was picked up – along with his new laptop computer – last Tuesday.

Pakistan’s government has named British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, or Sheikh Omar, as their prime suspect in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl, who vanished in Karachi on January 23 while trying to make contact with Jehadi groups.

Fawwad may have had a relatively minor role in the crime, police allege, but his arrest marked one of the first significant breakthroughs in the investigation.

“BRAINWASHED”: The young man had left home to live with his uncle just over a month before the kidnapping, his father Ahmed said – Fawwad was angry with his father for pushing him too hard to get a job.

A year after graduating with a bachelors degree in commerce from Karachi University, Fawwad spent 12 hours a day asleep, and was constantly bothering his mother for 10 rupees (17 US cents), Ahmed said. “He didn’t talk to me much, he would talk to his mother.”

Then Fawwad made friends with an older man called Salman, who he said had fought with the mujahideen (holy warriors) against the former Soviet Union’s occupation of neighbouring Afghanistan in the 1980s, Ahmed said.

“Maybe he was brainwashed,” his father said. “But he was not concerned with politics, not even that religious, not a Taleban – he was just crazy about computers.”

Fawwad had sold his last computer six or seven months ago, although he continued to study computing at a private college.

Ahmed says he does not know where his son got the money for an expensive new laptop, which he seems to have acquired in the last few weeks.

At his uncle’s house, in a concrete-jungle of tower blocks called the Noman Grand City complex in eastern Karachi – just around the corner from Cyber Speed – relatives and neighbours said they were equally surprised at Fawwad’s arrest.

“Three policemen came to the house, with the man from the Internet cafe,” said another uncle called Nadim who was also staying at the house.

“They asked to see his computer, then they took him away with his computer. They said they would come back in an hour, but we haven’t heard anything since, except what is in the papers.”

After questioning Fawwad, police then detained Salman Saqib, and a third man called Mohammad Adeel, a former police constable suspected of having links to Jehadi groups.

Police believe the photographs of Pearl came from a fourth man, suspected to be Sheikh Omar.

Fawwad’s father breaks off the interview to take medicine for his heart. “I want to tell the police the family is not involved, he is not involved, I don’t know how they trapped my son.”-Reuters

Source: Business Recorder
Date:2/11/2002