Hunt for Daniel Pearl continues in City -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Hunt for Daniel Pearl continues in City

LAHORE- The Karachi police took into custody another member of a religious organisation in the City in connection with the kidnapping of US journalist Daniel Pearl but released him after interrogation that lasted three hours, police sources said on Thursday.

According to unconfirmed reports, the kidnappers contacted a police officer and claimed they had killed the Wall Street Journal reporter and disposed of the body somewhere in Lahore. This triggered a search in Miani Saheb graveyard, where several policemen were seen collecting information from grave-diggers. However, there was no official confirmation.

‘The police have come close to recovering Daniel Pearl and the Islamabad police has been put on an alert,’ goes another rumor. No police officer concerned was available for comments.

Sources said the Karachi police on Thursday took into custody a member of a religious organisation Khalid and interrogated him for about three hours before being released. Another raid was conducted at an unspecified place, but no arrest was made.

It was the fourth such raid by the Karachi police in the City.

Police also remained present at the in-laws’ house of Sheikh Umar, said to be the main suspect behind the high-profile crime. The British-born Sheikh Umar was one of the three persons who were released by the Indian Government after the hijacking of an Indian Airliner. His two relatives, including a woman, are said to be in police custody.

In a raid on Tuesday, the Karachi police had arrested one of the suspects Hashim Qadir alias Arif and the rest of the two suspects Imtiaz Siddiqui and Bashir were nabbed from Islamabad.

The Islamabad police had picked up the two following an-mail message sent to the US authorities showing Pearl in captivity with a gun on his temple.

The three are said to have been acting as intermediary between kidnappers and the US journalist.

Denial Pearl had gone missing 14 days ago telling his wife in Karachi that he was going to interview Pir Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani of Tanzeem-ul-Fuqura. Since then he has been missing.

Pearl may be found ‘within days’: official

Authorities here said Thursday they expect to locate abducted US journalist ‘within days,’ although they have still not found four chief suspects as the search dragged into its 15th day.

‘We will recover him soon, maybe within days or it could be even sooner,’ Brigadier Mukhtar Sheikh, Sindh Home Secretary said.

However police sources said Thursday they still had no clue as to the whereabouts of any of the four, and Brigadier Sheikh refused to comment on the massive police search for British-born Omar.

‘We are trying to put together some concrete leads to trace the whereabouts of the chief suspect (Omar) but there has been no luck so far,’ another police investigator said.

The Sindh Home Secretary said police were still interrogating three people arrested in Karachi on Tuesday night as the source of e-mails containing photographs of Pearl in captivity.

The three, who told police that they had sent the e-mails on Omar’s orders, were identified as former police intelligence officer Adil Sheikh, and cousins Suleman Saqib and Fawad who were said to be members of Jaish-e-Mohammad.

A previously unknown group calling itself the Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty sent two e-mails last week containing photos of Pearl in captivity and threatened to kill him by last Thursday.

The group has not been heard from since, but police, who are being assisted by US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, believe Pearl is still alive and being held somewhere in Karachi.

‘The case has now entered a crucial phase and at this stage we cannot give you details except that we are making progress,’ another investigator said Thursday.

Military spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi said ‘all-out efforts’ were being made to find Pearl, but refused to predict when he might be found or speculate on whether he was still alive.

‘There is progress. I cannot put a time limit as to when this will be resolved,’ he told a Press conference.

Jaish-e-Mohammad has denied any link with Omar and said it was not involved in the kidnapping.

Omar has not been seen since he left his Lahore home with his wife and baby four days before Pearl was abducted.

He was arrested in New Delhi in 1993 after allegedly kidnapping three tourists he hoped to swap for jailed militant Maulana Masood Azhar. In 1999 both Omar and Azhar were released in exchange for hostages on a hijacked Indian Airlines plane in Afghanistan.

Source: The Nation
Date:2/8/2002