Main suspects in Pearl case held
LAHORE- A joint investigation team probing the kidnapping of the US journalist on Tuesday claimed making a major breakthrough. Explaining the breakthrough, police sources said on Tuesday night that law enforcement agencies had picked up three main suspects of the high-profile crime from Lahore and Islamabad.
Separately, Karachi police also picked up at least three militants of the banned jihadi outfit Jaish-i-Mohammad in the Daniel Pearl kidnap case, according to our staff reporter in Karachi.
The sources said the police picked up Fawad and Salman from Karachi’s Gulistan-i-Jauhar on Tuesday afternoon. The name of the third could not be ascertained.
The three, when quizzed by the police, reportedly said the photograph of the US journalist, sent along with the e-mail, had been given to them by Sheikh Omar. No further details could be gathered immediately.
Two top-ranking officials of the federal government, when contacted, showed reluctance to give details of the breakthrough, though their conversation confirmed the arrests. An interior ministry source also confirmed the arrests, though he, too, did not give details, resumes our staff reporter from Lahore. However, according to the sources in Islamabad police, one of the main suspects, Hashim Qadir alias Arif, was picked up from Lahore. Rest of the two suspects Imtiaz Saddiqi and Bashir were arrested from Islamabad. However, a senior officer of the Punjab police cast doubt about the arrest of Hashim, saying the man was not that wanted in the case. He had mistakenly been taken as Hashim, he claimed.
Islamabad police sources said that they had picked up the two men following phone and e-mail numbers given to them by Karachi police. It is suspected that first e-mail message sent to the US authorities and The Wall Street Journal of the kidnapped Daniel Pearl in which he had been shown in captivity with a gun on his temple was sent by the two men.
The three men are said to have been working as intermediary between the US journalist and militant jihadi outfits. He had reportedly interviewed the members of the jihadi organiztions through these men and they had also helped him in doing stories on the subject.
Police sources said that Hashim had been working with a nickname as RS in his dealing with the US journalist.
Having a criminal record, Hashim was reportedly missing from his house for the last three years and had been working for jihadi outfits for some years.
Police sources said that a special team, which had earlier arrested two men Babar and his nephew Haris from Lahore a couple of days ago and had taken them to Karachi, arrived in the city on Monday evening. Investigators had cleared Babar from the case and he had reached home in Lahore by the time this report was being filed but his nephew was still in the police custody.
A Punjab police senior officer confirmed the presence of the team in the city, saying that one Superintendent Police (SP) Capt Saif (retired) of the anti-car lifting police Karachi was heading it. Mr Saif also had meetings with two senior officers in the city. One of the officers said: “Yes, we had a meeting but it was personal and had nothing to do with the kidnapping.”
Daniel Pearl had gone missing 13 days ago telling his wife in Karachi that he was going to interview Pir Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani of Tanzeen-ul-Fuqra.