38 year old Daniel Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal was abducted and beheaded in Karachi in 2002, while researching a story about militants. A graphic video showing Pearl’s decapitation, was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month later.
Pearl disappeared on 23 January 2002 in Karachi, while researching links between Pakistani militants and Richard C Reid, who became known as the shoe bomber, after he was arrested on a flight from Paris to Miami, with explosives in his shoes. Prosecutors said, Saeed lured Pearl into a trap by promising to arrange an interview with an Islamic cleric who police believed was not involved in the conspiracy.
Almost shockingly, A Pakistani court on 01 April, overturned the murder conviction of a British Pakistani man found guilty of the 2002 kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Instead, sardonically, the court found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh guilty of the minor charge of kidnapping and sentenced him to seven years in prison.
Omar Saeed and ISI Connections
Omar Saeed has been described as “no ordinary terrorist but a man who has connections that reach high into Pakistan’s military and intelligence elite and into the innermost circles of Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organisation.” Saeed began working for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1993. By 1994, he went for guerrilla training in Khost in Afghanistan, and thereafter was operating training camps in Afghanistan. He had earned the title of bin Laden’s “special son.”
In 1994 he was arrested in India and imprisoned in a jail in Ghaziabad, as part of a gang which had kidnapped four Western tourists (ISI paid Saeed’s legal fees during his 1994 trial in India). He was released in 1999 as part of a deal to secure the safety of passengers viz Kandahar hijacking, and visited Afghanistan on four occasions, for ISI to train operatives. During these visits, he met Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, and that although he was not a permanent member of Al Qaeda, he helped to finance it through ransom money generated from kidnappings.
He was the gift ISI had placed at the disposal of Bin Laden, or more?
Complicit Pakistani Establishment
Being an Oxford studied, polished, economically sound with business connections and a hardened Islamic terrorist mindset was not something common, which Bin Laden recognized.
US investigators had discovered that Omar Saeed, using the alias “Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad” had sent about $100,000 from the UAE to Mohamed Ata. “Investigators said Ata then distributed the funds to conspirators in Florida in the weeks before 9/11. Source of funds was investigated by both UAE and the US government, and guess what was uncovered.
More than a month after the money transfer was discovered, the head of ISI, General Mahmud Ahmed resigned from his position. It was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), using the Cell Phone data investigations, found that the Boss of ISI of Pakistan Army ordered Saeed to send the $100,000 to Ata.
In January 2011, in summarising a report prepared by The Center for Public Integrity and The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, it appeared that Saeed was framed. Another man, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a CIA captive, who had been interrogated, had confessed to the murder, and the report concluded his confession was credible. According to them, Omar Saeed had been responsible for the original kidnapping, but his plan was to hold Pearl for a ransom (which in itself is as absurd as it is a fallible excuse) . According to Wittes’s summary this original ransom plan was abandoned when Saeed was pressured to hand Pearl over to Al Qaeda operatives. According to Wittes’s summary, the report concluded:
- In their haste to placate their role, Pakistani authorities knowingly used perjured testimony to pin the actual act of murder on Omar Sheikh and his three co conspirators.
- While the four were involved in the kidnapping plan and certainly were culpable, they were not present when Pearl was murdered. Others, who were present and actually assisted in the brutal beheading, were not charged.
Was it an ISI operation or simply an botched up effort to wriggle out of the mess created by a former cadre gone rogue, however role of ISI and Pakistan Army has been established by this report.
Crashed Legal Framework in Pakistan
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its dismay over the court order, and the Commissioner’s words “This verdict shows not only the lack of accountability for Daniel Pearl’s murder but the misplaced priorities of the Pakistani legal system” highlights the quandary the legal system has been, since many decades.
It’s a known fact, that establishment aka Pakistan Army has been string managing the Pakistani legal apparatus since the Musharraf and Justice Chaudhary episode, fifteen years back. In a country, where multitudes of Terrorist organizations thrive, and Politics and fundamental Islamic organizations have colluded in such a fashion, that terrorism is hard to define and miss, in the Pakistani way of life. In last three decades, not a single terrorist or religious hardliner fanatics, have been prosecuted, unless being pro Pakistan Army terrorist group, or goaded by the US in doing so.
Mockery and failure of justice in Pakistan has come to fore with this judgement, where an established terrorist, freed in front of world’s eyes post Kandahar Hijack, intricate member of Al Qaeda, kidnapper of a slain Journalist is allowed to walk free.
To make matter more hilariously hideous, the Sindh provincial government in Pakistan will file a criminal appeal in the Supreme Court against this lower court’s verdict. While Pakistan does have a desire to play the saint, however in front of world’s eyes, Pakistan stands exposed, as patronizing and mentoring its terrorist cadres.
07 April 20/Tuesday Written By: Fayaz