Pearl case cover-up leaves government clueless about new terrorist threat: Pakistan is new battleground for foreign militants against the west | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Pearl case cover-up leaves government clueless about new terrorist threat: Pakistan is new battleground for foreign militants against the west

KARACHI- The man, who had provided the Crime Investigation Department (CID) police with graphic details about Daniel Pearl’s ghastly murder and had pinpointed his butchered remains to the police, has also revealed that major Pakistani cities may soon witness more suicidal attacks against the westerners and key government personalities, officials with direct knowledge about the interrogation of this new accused person in the Pearl case divulged here on Wednesday.

Pakistani security officials believe that because of increased monitoring activities by the military services in the tribal areas, scores of the foreigners, earlier hiding there, have now moved with the help of their trusted Pakistani religious supporters to the populous urban centres, such as Karachi.

Specific intelligence information about new terrorism threat to Pakistan, gathered from new suspects in the Pearl case, is currently restricted to a few CID police investigators as the police have yet to officially acknowledge this major breakthrough in the Pearl case.

Despite being arrested about a week ago by the CID, Fazal Karim — a resident of Rahim Yar Khan and a father of five — is yet to be formally arrested by the Sindh police, whose senior officials believe that the arrest of a new accused and an official confirmation about the discovery of the Pearl’s body will derail the ongoing trial against Sheikh Omar and 10 other persons, earlier identified by the police as main accused in the kidnapping-cum-murder of Daniel Pearl. Before the police had dug the shallow grave in the nursery garden of Gulzare Hijri on Friday, the same person is believed to have provided the police a video compact disc (VCD), the master print of Danny’s video murder, and had informed the police that they would found Danny’s body in 10 pieces.

“There are scores of Arabs and their Pakistani loyalists who are desperate to blow themselves up to settle score with the Americans and other westerners,” an official quoted Fazal Karim as saying. “These Arabs residing in various neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Karachi are on do-or-die missions,” he added.

Fazal told his investigators, “Our Arab friends hosted us in Afghanistan when we were on the run, now it’s our turn to pay them back.” Informed officials said that Fazal Karim had identified Lashkar-e- Jhangvi’s Naeem Bukhari as the ring leader of the group that also included “three Yemeni-Baluch” who took part in Pearl’s kidnapping, his murder and disposal of his body parts. Naeem Bukhari is wanted by police in Punjab and Karachi in more than a dozen cases of sectarian tension.

Even Fazal Karim, official sources said, acknowledged Ahmed Saeed Omar Sheikh’s role in planning Pearl’s kidnapping which was initially planned to trade the Wall Street Journal reporter with an arrested Jihadi leader or with some unidentified Pakistani or Arab prisoners at the US military-run Guntanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Giving more specific information about the new terrorist threat in Karachi, Fazal is believed to have disclosed that the Airport hotel near Karachi airport, where the western military personnel of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) were staying, had been selected by his group for a possible suicidal strike.

Already, a senior Pakistani security official said: “Local and al-Qaeda footprints have been found” in every major strike against the so-called soft western targets in Pakistan this year: Pearl kidnapping and murder in January, grenade attack that killed two Americans and others in an Islamabad church in March and the car bomb that killed 16, including 12 French technicians, outside a Karachi hotel early this month.

Informed diplomats in Islamabad termed “a watershed” and “very dangerous” the evidence that previously friendly groups have merged operationally. Al-Qaeda signatures, not seen previously in Pakistan, were starkly visible in the recent attacks apparently carried out principally by the Pakistanis: detailed planning, western targets and, in the two attacks, suicide bombers.

Visiting French intelligence officials last week were quoted as anticipating another terrorist strike inside Pakistan in the space of 15 to 21 days. They were talking to the remaining members of the French defence contractors in Karachi.

In the event of police’s confirmation about Fazal Karim’s arrest, he would have been interrogated by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of the ISI, IB, MI and police CID. Because of his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, he would have also been questioned by the FBI agents.

Fazal Karim has stated that at least two groups, comprising local religious extremists, had pledged to strike against key personalities of Pakistan government at an opportune time this year, informed official said. After spending a few days at a CID-run detention facility, Fazal Karim has now been shifted to the police’s branch famously known as the CIA — the Karachi police wing officially assigned as the prosecutors in the Pearl case.

While Fazal Karim’s status with the Sindh police is still unclear, Inspector General of Sindh Police Syed Kamal Shah had officially stated on Friday that the Pearl’s remains had been recovered on a tip-off from a “special informant”. Many crime watchers in Karachi, though wondered why the “special informant” had not approached the US government which was offering $5 million and the relocation of the informant in the US for the same piece of information that led the Karachi police to the remains of Daniel Pearl.

While the FBI’s results on the tissue samples, taken from the decapitated body, are expected any day, Sindh police bosses still insist that for the confirmation of Daniel Pearl’s body they would rely on the Pakistani DNA test to be carried out in Lahore.

A highly-placed Sindh government source confirmed on Wednesday that the Lahore facility, selected by the Sindh police to conduct the DNA test, obviously, does not have the base material or Danny’s blood samples to match the tissue samples collected from a Karachi morgue on Sunday night.

A top-ranking federal health ministry official separately confirmed on Tuesday that no DNA tests, particularly for forensic reasons, had ever been carried out in Pakistan. Official sources confirmed that the US government had shipped Danny’s tissue samples to a FBI facility in the US and its results will be announced soon.

Source: The News