Key link in Pearl case identified -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Key link in Pearl case identified

KARACHI- Police identified a missing militant, Muhammad Hashim Qadeer, as a crucial link in the kidnapping of US journalist Daniel Pearl as their search for the reporter intensified on Monday.

“He is the main link and his arrest can lead to a major breakthrough,” a senior officer involved in the investigation told this to a news source, requesting anonymity. The Wall Street Journal reporter was using Qadeer, better known as Arif, as a contact point to meet other militants in Pakistan before he disappeared, the senior investigating officer said.

Pearl was last seen heading off to meet Arif on the understanding that he would bring him to Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, leader of the little known militant Muslim group Tanzeem-ul-Fuqra, the officer said. “Investigations have shown Arif was acting as a go-between for Pearl and Gilani,” the officer said.

Police have dismissed claims by Arif’s family that he died recently in Afghanistan. When they visited Arif’s home in southern Bahawalpur district last week they found the family conducting prayers for the dead but there was no sign of a body. Arif is known to have had a long association with Harkatul Mujahedin. “We have no confirmation that he has been killed,” the assistant police superintendent in Bahawalpur, Khurran Shakoor, said.

“Arif is the main link which can lead us to unearth the mystery and lead to the group which is claiming responsibility,” the investigating officer said. He added that it appeared Gilani was “used as a bait to trap the American journalist. Unwittingly he (Pearl) played into the hands of the kidnappers.” He said police continued to believe Pearl was still alive as the kidnappers’ demands had not been met, and nothing has been heard from them since they extended the death-threat deadline last Thursday. “It seems that he is being held somewhere in Karachi,” the officer said.

“The group that sent the e-mails along with Pearl’s photos is being treated as real kidnappers,” according to Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil. But “it is a big concern for us as they have not sent any fresh message, but in high-profile kidnappings sometimes the kidnappers take time,” he added.

Investigators, meanwhile, have fanned out beyond Karachi to interior Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Jamil said. Twelve people detained in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad over the weekend remained in custody on Monday, but police said no arrests had been made.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Sindh Syed Kamal Shah has said that there was no pre-planned move for the abduction of American journalist Daniel Pearl. Answering questions during Interior Minister Lt-Gen (retd) Moin Haider’s address to the police officer here on Monday, the IGP said that it was Daniel himself who provided an opportunity for his own “kidnapping” as he went to those who later held him hostage.

“Scanning of the e-mail correspondence suggests that Daniel’s captors had offered him to provide answers through the e-mail but he did not agree to that and was keen to reach them. As such it can be deduced that it was not a pre-planned kidnapping. We have to trace those people. We know who they are. We have information but that cannot be shared,” Syed Kamal Shah said.

Source: The News
Date:2/5/2002