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l November 03' l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 3, No 7 l


America Alleges Mohammed Killed Pearl

Gary Fitleberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  We are pleased to welcome Gary Fitleberg to the Kashmir Telegraph family. He joins us as a Contributing Editor.

A Special Tribute to an American journalist Daniel Pearl – October 10, 1963 to February 21, 2002 – A Real Pearl.

Daniel Pearl would have turned 40 on Friday, October 10, 2003.

But instead the American was brutally, ruthlessly and tragically murdered in Pakistan early last year after he was abducted by Al Qaeda terrorists. The terrorists slit his throat while the videotaped their execution.

American officials believe that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, once Al Qaeda’s top operational commander, personally executed Daniel Pearl.

“We do believe that he was personally responsible for killing Pearl, a U.S. official stated, confirming a report first published in Pearl’s newspaper The Wall Street Journal.

The official did not state precisely what information led to the conclusion that it was Mohammed who took Pearl’s life by cutting his throat. Nor would the official say whether Mohammed had confessed to the slaying in a series of interrogations conducted since March, when he was captured in Rawlpindi.

Other officials said Mohammed, who was being held at an undisclosed location as a suspected terrorist, might be charged with Pearl’s murder at a military tribunal. However, they said it was highly unlikely that he would be tried in an American criminal court because of the risk of divulging classified sensitive information.

Pearl, the Journal’s South Asia Bureau Chief, vanished in Karachi on January 23, 2002, while he was researching an article about Islamic extremism. Some time later, investigators obtained a videotape that graphically showed his death and execution at the hands of a person whose face was not visible. Pearl’s body was not found until May.

An extremist group, which referred to itself as the National movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty, originally claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and demanded the release of Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists who were held in American custody.

In early 2002, Pakistani police identified Sheik Ahmad Omar Saeed, an Islamic militant with a history of kidnapping foreigners, as a prime suspect in Pearl’s abduction. In July 2002, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court sentenced Saeed to death for his role in the kidnapping. He is appealing that sentence.

Three other Islamic extremists were found guilty of aiding in the conspiracy to abduct Pearl. Each of them was sentenced to a term of 25 years in prison.

During the court proceedings, there were suggestions that Mohammed might have had a direct role in Pearl’s death, but some Pakistani officials have remained unconvinced that he was personally involved for killing Pearl.”

Referring to the testimony in the Pakistani court, the American official said the findings about Mohammed were “not entirely new.” But now, the official said, “The U.S. government has come to the conclusion that’s the correct, that he was personally responsible for killing Pearl.”

There has been doubt about the convictions reached by the special terrorism courts in Pakistan. Past convictions have been overturned during the appeals process which prosecution cases are examined more closely. Some officials have identified two other men as having a direct role in Pearl’s death, including one that helped lead authorities to Pearl’s body.

But some terror experts have said Mohammed was well positioned to serve as a coordinator between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani militant groups, like the one believed to have carried out Pearl’s murder.

Mohammed, who attended college in the U.S., has been widely suspected by American intelligence and law enforcement authorities as one of the chief architects of the September 11, 2001 attacks against America. Previously, he was believed to have clung to the shadows, giving orders and organizing logistical support and personnel, but leaving others to carry out his plots.

Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 in an arrest that counterterorism authorities hailed as a capture that demonstrated how deeply American intelligence had penetrated Osama bin Laden’s terror network.

Daniel Pearl, a brave and courageous individual and journalist will be truly missed and his blessed memory and dedication to the pursuit of facts and truth is truly inspirational to us all. He lives in our hearts and in our memories forever!!!

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