Investigators ‘devastated' by killing -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Investigators ‘devastated’ by killing

KARACHI- The 29-day search for US reporter Daniel Pearl, that ended overnight with the emergence of a gruesome video of his beheading, was one of the biggest manhunts in Pakistan’s history, devastated investigators said Friday. “Never before was a hunt and search operation carried out at such a mass level in almost every nook and corner of Pakistan,” one of the senior police investigators said.

“Law enforcement agencies in every province were involved, the police, the army, intelligence agencies, civilian experts, even President Musharraf himself was personally taking an interest. “I am livid. It’s a crushing disappointment. We are all shocked.” Within days of Pearl’s disappearance in Karachi — a teeming port city with a reputation for treachery, borne of daylight assassinations, fatal carjackings, and more than 200 kidnappings since 1989 — police fanned out across Pakistan, raiding the homes of suspects and arresting their relatives, while tracing a series of e-mails, mostly hoaxes, in a parallel cyber-hunt.

Agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation were involved from the earliest days, present at the interrogation of the first detainee, Islamic militant leader Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, whom Pearl was heading to meet at a downtown Karachi restaurant when he vanished on January 23. As the hunt twisted and met dead-ends, and the kidnappers’ trail went cold and the captors silent, Washington sent more FBI agents and specialists in tracing e-mails and mobile phone calls.

“Until the last minute we were hoping that we would find Danny alive. Suddenly everything has changed. The brutality with which they have carried out this killing is awesome,” the senior investigator said. One of the chief civilian investigators called the beheading, recorded on video and delivered to the US consulate here late Thursday, “un-Islamic.”

“This is not only inhuman, but un-Islamic,” he said, adding that investigators were baffled as to what the killers of the Wall Street Journal reporter thought they had achieved. “It’s difficult to say what they’ve achieved, as this incident will only bring hard days for them,” he said. The senior police investigator warned that the killing showed the existence of a “barbaric group” who “pose a threat to Pakistani society.”

“There is a message for all of us: the group that we are dealing with are no small-time people. They are barbaric, they are ruthless, they cannot be underestimated.” He called on President Pervez Musharraf, who has won praise worldwide, especially in Washington, for his risk-taking crackdown on Islamic militants and for reversing Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, to “smash” the extremists behind Pearl’s murder.

“The government has to come down heavily…Every action of the government should be targeted against them. We have to prove that we mean business,” he said. “We will not spare them.” But even with the grisly proof of Pearl’s death, investigators are still at a loss as to where his corpse or killers are.

“We have no idea of their whereabouts. Although we have identified the ringleader of the gang who were holding him,” he said, referring to Islamic militant Amjad Hussain Farooqi. Police believe it was Farooqi who picked Pearl up from a Karachi hotel on January 23, when Pearl believed he was being taken to interview Gilani for his story on the shadowy underworld of Pakistan’s Muslim militants.

Source: The News