Video fails to solve Pearl murder riddles
ISLAMABAD- Four days after a video showing kidnapped US reporter Daniel Pearl’s gruesome death surfaced in Karachi, investigators seem no closer to finding his decapitated body or knowing where or when he died.
As a Karachi court on Monday extended the police detention of the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping and two others by 14 days, Pakistani police said they were looking for more suspects believed to be involved in the crime.
But police and other officials were wary of talking about the progress of a nation-wide manhunt for other suspects after seeing their previous much-publicised hopes of rescuing the Wall Street Journal reporter proved wrong by the kidnappers.
Pearl, the Journal’s Bombay-based South Asia bureau chief, disappeared on January 23 in Karachi while working on a story about Islamic radicals in Pakistan and links with Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, chief suspect for the September 11 hijack plane attacks on the United States.
US and Pakistani officials said a videotape delivered to them in Karachi on Thursday – on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Azha – showed Pearl being killed on camera.
They said the tape, delivered by a Pakistani newspaper worker – who is also in police custody – gave no indication where and when the journalist was killed.
The officials initially said the abductors killed Pearl by slicing his throat with a knife after he admitted being Jewish.
But US media reports quoted an analysis of the videotape by US law enforcement officials as saying the reporter had been cut in the chest and was probably already dead when suspected Islamic extremists cut his throat in front of the camera.
PEARL NOT CONSCIOUS
The three-and-a-half-minute videotape included different scenes that had been spliced together, making it impossible to determine exactly how or when Pearl was killed, and the Washington Post quoted the analysis as saying.
But it said the tape made clear he was not conscious when his throat was slit.
A Pakistani source said Pakistani and US officials had at one stage discussed the possibility of releasing the tape to news organisations but later decided the scenes were too gruesome to be shown.
Pakistani police on Monday submitted the names of 11 suspects in a Karachi court they believed were involved in Pearl’s kidnapping and execution.
The police have already arrested four of the suspects, including British-born Islamic radical Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who appeared in a Karachi anti-terrorism court on Monday and was ordered detained for another 14 days to give investigators more time to find Pearl’s body.
Among the seven suspects still at large is Amjad Hussain Farooqi, known to Pearl as Imtiaz Siddiqui, and who is believed to have carried out the kidnapping.
The Washington Post quoted some officials as having concluded Pearl was killed soon after he was kidnapped, probably January 31, a day after people claiming to be his abductors sent an email threatening to kill him within 24 hours if their demands were not met.
Police sources and analysts now believe the demands, including the release of Pakistani prisoners held at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were never serious and that Pearl’s captors always intended to kill him, it said.
SCRIPTED LINES: According to the FBI tape analysis the Post said was provided to Journal executives, the videotape begins by showing Pearl reciting parts of his biography, including that he was Jewish.
Three sources said he identified his father as being Jewish, although other reports have said he cited his mother.
Pearl then speaks about the Pakistani prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, delivering apparently scripted lines similar to those included in an email sent by his suspected captors.
According to the analysis, the tape then cuts to other scenes, and it is unclear whether they occurred immediately afterward or hours or days later.
The first subsequent scene, according to this analysis, shows Pearl with superimposed images of Afghanistan behind him. Then, after another splice, the tape shows part of Pearl’s body with a four-inch incision in his chest.
The wound was not fresh, and was not bleeding, suggesting Pearl could have been cut even days before, and the Post quoted the analysis as saying.
“After another editing cut, Pearl appears lying down. The arms of two men wearing short-sleeved, striped shirts are seen as one reaches over with a knife and slashes Pearl’s throat,” the report said.
“Pearl was not conscious at the time, and investigators studying the tape said they believe he was probably already dead because he did not react to the touch of the knife.
“We were told that there was absolutely no movement whatsoever at the point of contact with the knife,” the Post quoted Steven Goldstein, vice-president and spokesman for Dow Jones Co, the Journal’s parent company, who confirmed the account.
Source: Business Recorder