No firm clue yet in Pearl's case -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

No firm clue yet in Pearl’s case

ISLAMABAD- The abductors of US journalist Daniel Pearl made a telephone contact with the US Consulate in Karachi, however, the law enforcement agencies have so far been unable to trace the call, an official said on Saturday.

“The call, demanding a ransom was made somewhere from Islamabad and we are still trying to track down the caller,” a senior military official said and added: “We don’t think that Mr Pearl has been murdered and dumped in Islamabad.” However, the security agency officials along with police launched a search operation in Islamabad late on Saturday night and arrested two people. It was not known whether the two persons had any links with the kidnappers of Daniel Pearl.

A senior police official of Islamabad police confirmed that the US authorities had received a telephone call and the Sindh police had requested the Capital police to help trace the caller.

The source said that the one telephone number that had been traced by the US authorities was provided to Islamabad police. “We had been given one telephone number. Two persons have been taken into custody and they are being interrogated. If the Sindh police demanded custody of these two persons, they will be handed over to the Sindh police,” Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Nasir Khan Durrani, who is leading the operation, told to a news source.

AFP adds: The fate of Daniel Pearl remained unclear on Saturday, as the Karachi police dismissed a claim he had been executed and a cryptic message arrived from his captors saying he “is (may be) alive”.

“We now rule out the possibility that he has been killed as claimed by the kidnappers,” Sindh Home Secretary Brigadier Mukhtar Sheikh said. Police were following leads from a telephone call, which demanded two million dollars for Daniel Pearl’s release, he said.

A new e-mail sent by the kidnappers on Saturday suggested Pearl had not been killed, but was not explicit.

“Pearl is (may be) alive and make real efforts to get him out,” a copy of the message seen by AFP said.

The e-mail was from the same address as earlier e-mails containing threats to kill Pearl and accompanied by photographs of him in captivity.

Mukhtar Sheikh said police had followed all information contained in one e-mail, including an exhaustive search of graveyards in Karachi and found no evidence the reporter was dead.

US news organisations said they received an e-mail on Friday, after the execution deadline set by the kidnappers, claiming the Wall Street Journal correspondent had been killed and his body dumped in a graveyard.

Mukhtar Sheikh said police were tracing a telephone call to the US Embassy in Islamabad late Friday demanding a two million dollar ransom plus the release of the Taliban’s former ambassador to Pakistan.

“We are now investigating the telephone call made to US embassy in Islamabad and have found some leads, but I cannot give you the details at this stage,” he said.

Police checking the origin of the e-mails raided an apartment in Karachi late Friday and detained two people. But a police official said they failed to find anything substantive.

A group claiming to hold Daniel Pearl had threatened to kill him by Friday unless the United States freed Pakistani prisoners held at its naval base in Cuba and improved the treatment of others in detention there.

Karachi police officer Manzoor Mughal said police were skeptical of the claim of Pearl’s death because there was no photo to substantiate the claim. “It now appears that the last e-mail was fake as … the kidnappers have not sent a photograph of the dead person,” Mughal said.

Pearl disappeared in Karachi 10 days ago after telling his wife he was going to interview Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, leader of Tanzeem-ul-Fuqra, for a story.

Source: Dawn
Date:2/3/2002