Pearl case: police question suspects’ brothers
KARACHI- Police on Monday were questioning the brothers of two of the suspected kidnappers of US journalist Daniel Pearl, amid reports the US wants to extradite the self-confessed abduction ringleader, Sheikh Omar.
US-based Newsweek magazine reported that the US wants to extradite Omar, a British-born militant who served six years in an Indian prison on charges of kidnapping three foreign tourists, once he is indicted in Pakistan. But Pakistani police and officials have expressed objections to handing Omar over before finding the Wall Street Journal correspondent, who has been missing for almost four weeks.
“As far as this gentleman is concerned, he has been apprehended for a certain reason in Pakistan, and let the Pakistan law and Pakistan legal process take its course,” foreign ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told a press conference in the capital Islamabad. “The investigation of Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping case is continuing with the same intensity and vigour,” he said.
Omar, arrested early last week, has admitted in court to arranging Pearl’s abduction and claimed that the reporter has been killed. Sindh provincial police chief Kamal Shah told reporters last week that investigators were not in favour of extraditing Omar out of Pakistan. “The kidnapping took place in Pakistan so there is no point in extraditing anyone in this case,” Shah said at a press conference.
Another investigator, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that extraditing Omar was “on the cards”. “But not at this stage, because at this stage we are investigating, we have to recover Pearl first, so we cannot now let go of a prime suspect who can provide us with all these leads,” the investigator said.
US embassy officials in Islamabad were unavailable to comment on the Newsweek report, carried in an edition due to be published on Monday. Police raided more homes in Pakistan’s southern Sindh and eastern Punjab provinces over the weekend, detaining the brothers of two key suspects named by Omar during police interrogation.
A senior investigator said that Omar had revealed the name “Qasim” during interrogation as one of the men who may have been holding Pearl since he disappeared. Two of Qasim’s brothers detained on Saturday had been brought for questioning to the southern port city of Karachi, where Pearl was abducted on January 23. No other details of Qasim’s identity were available.
Omar had also named Islamic militant Amjad Hussain Farooqi as the key “go-between” of 12 men believed to have been involved in the operation to kidnap Pearl, one of the chief interrogators said.
Farooqi allegedly picked Pearl up from a Karachi hotel on January 23, after the reporter told his wife he was heading off to interview a little-known Islamic militant leader. Police detained for questioning two of Farooqi’s brothers and as well as another 12 people suspected of having ties to him, during raids Saturday in Punjab. However the weekend raids had resulted in “no major arrest,” the investigator said.
The foreign ministry’s Khan rejected suggestions that efforts to track Pearl and his captors were slowing down. “The investigations are going on with the same intensity and vigorousness as they were in the past, there is no relenting on that score from the agencies concerned,” he told reporters.
Source: The News