Police frustrated in hunt for Pearl
KARACHI- Concern grew Tuesday that the hunt for missing US journalist Daniel Pearl had reached a dead-end nearly four weeks after his abduction by a murky network of Islamic militants.
‘There has been no further progress,’ a Pakistani investigator said in Karachi, where the Wall Street Journal correspondent vanished on January 23.
Inquiries appear to have stalled since the arrest of the self-confessed kidnap mastermind, British-born militant Sheikh Omar, who has admitted in court to arranging Pearl’s abduction and claimed he had been killed.
Omar has provided police with several names of his alleged accomplices, but raids across Pakistan, while resulting in the arrests of relatives of the accomplices, have failed to bring police any closer to Pearl’s captors.
Investigators complained Tuesday they had failed to get any substantial lead from Omar.
‘He is not talking much and has not provided any substantial lead as yet,’ a senior investigator said on condition of anonymity.
Omar claimed he had not been in touch with the reporter’s captors since February 5, he said.
‘But we are investigating whether he was in touch with them or not,’ he said.
Police say they are now searching for at least four other members of a gang believed to have kidnapped Pearl, including Amjad Hussain Farooqi, Imtiaz Siddiqui, Mohammad Qasim and Mohammad Hashim.
‘Any of these suspects might be holding Pearl as hostage, and it could also be possible that these were not their real names,’ another police investigator told.
He said between eight and 10 people could have been involved in the operation to abduct Pearl, 38, calling them ‘top-class professionals who know their job very well.’
Â‘In the past there have been cases of kidnapping of foreigners, but for the purpose of ransom. Here is a case which carries political dimensions,’ the investigator said.
He added the series of raids in Sindh and Punjab provinces had resulted in ‘no major arrest.’
Police in Multan, Punjab, said they were searching for Mian Abbas Miana, reportedly an associate of Omar, after a raid on Miana’s residence had failed to find him.
A police officer said investigations were being thwarted as associates and activists of the Jaish-e-Mohammad had gone underground.
Most of those detained over the abduction have been identified as activists of the outlawed Islamic group, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, although the group has denied any involvement.
The home department of Sindh issued a statement late Monday saying a ‘countrywide operation is progressing with speed and urgency.’
‘The investigation of the Daniel Pearl case is progressing in the right direction and every conceivable effort is being made to effect the recovery of Pearl,’ the statement said.
It said Omar had named his accomplices, ‘of whom some have been arrested, while efforts are afoot to arrest the remaining culprits.’
A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office, Aziz Ahmed Khan, rejected suggestions at a Press conference Monday that the hunt for Pearl had stalled.
‘The investigation of Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping case is continuing with the same intensity and vigour,’ he said.
Source: The Nation