Police believe kidnapper in Lahore -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Police believe kidnapper in Lahore

LAHORE- The key to US journalist Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping mystery might be lying somewhere in the city where the main suspect Sheikh Omar is believed to be hiding, police sources said on Monday.

Investigators, however, are not Certain whether or not British born Sheikh Omar, a leader of banned Jaish-i-Muhammad, is keeping the Wall Street Journal correspondent in Lahore, though Karachi police sources insist they believe Daniel Pearl was being kept somewhere in Karachi. “At present, the kidnapping mastermind and the victim are believed to be at two different locations,” a source said.

“Another team of Sindh police officers, led by an Superintendent Police (SP) rank officer who has served here for several months, is due to arrive in the city in a day or two,” a source said. The team is expected to concentrate on areas at and around Mohni Road, where Omar’s in laws reside, and also in the areas which he has been visiting in past.

While investigators have already made one of Omar’s close relatives talk to him on his cell phone, a senior Karachi police source close to the investigation disclosed and added that investigators have themselves spoken with Omar on a cell phone also. One of the phone contacts is said to have been made on February 2. “I am not aware whether or not Omar has been making outgoing calls from the cell phone,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

“US experts are using all sorts of technology to get information on all fronts,” he said.

There are reports that the police have also taken into custody a relative of a person who owned the cell phone said to be recently used by Omar. The ‘arrest’ was made in Rawalpindi on Sunday night, but was not immediately followed by any kind of a breakthrough.

Meanwhile, a massive search for the kidnapped journalist continued all day long across the country, but with no positive result. “We have drummed up the search, blocking all entry and exit points in all the major cities,” a police officer said and added that the computerized sketches of Omar’s all probable disguises have also been made to nab him.

Daniel Pearl had disappeared in Karachi on January 23. It was described as a kidnapping case after the US authorities received his photograph, with a gun pointed at his head, via e-mail. One of the e-mails said they would kill Pearl by February 1 if the US did not release a Taliban diplomat and Pakistani nationals captured in Afghanistan. At the same time, several phone calls and e-mails in connection with Daniel Pearl’s abduction also turned out to be hoax without making any headway. One of the e-mails said Daniel Pearl has been killed and his body buried, something, which triggered a massive search in graveyards in Karachi as well as in Lahore. The police also checked with the morgue records in several cities, particularly in cases involving beyond identification murdered victims, but did not find any clue.

At least three persons arrested for allegedly sending the e-mails have already named Omar as the mastermind behind the whole drama. The police have taken into custody over a dozen persons so far in several raids in different cities. Despite the massive manhunt and appeals from Pearl’s pregnant wife, the breakthrough is yet to come.

Sheikh Omar was one of the three released by the Indian government after the hijacking of an Indian airliner, which was taken to Kabul, where the exchange took place.

Source: The Nation
Date:2/12/2002