Pearl's murder planned 'for maximum shock'

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 19:15:42 -0000

US harnesses hi-tech to 'predict' terrorism 
Pakistani authorities warned yesterday that the murder of the American
journalist Daniel Pearl may have been part of a wider plot to undermine
the US war on terrorism, and an attempt to destabilise President Pervez
Musharraf's pro-Western military government. 

Investigators believe the men who kidnapped Mr Pearl in Karachi on 23
January intended to kill him from the start, and that the horrific,
ritualistic manner in which he was butchered on camera was carefully
planned to maximise the shock waves that his death would cause. 

Pakistan's interior ministry warned foreign embassies to boost their
security, and said further attacks on US citizens or interests could not
be ruled out. The warning was prompted by statements from the suspected
mastermind of the Pearl kidnapping and murder, the British-born militant
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who told investigators in custody that one of
the targets his group had considered was the US consulate in Karachi. 

Mr Saeed, who heads a group called the National Movement for the
Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty, is one of four suspected
kidnappers now in custody. Pakistani officials are looking for at least
four more, including the men they believe carried out Mr Pearl's murder.


Security was heightened yesterday at the Karachi detention centre where
three of the four men are being held because authorities feared that
other members of the kidnapping gang might try to eliminate their former
comrades before they revealed too many of the group's secrets. 

It still was not clear where and when Mr Pearl was killed, and there was
no trace of his body. According to Pakistani police, Mr Saeed suggested
he was murdered on 31 January, 24 hours after the last ultimatum was
issued by his kidnappers. Mr Saeed learned of the killing in a coded
telephone message on 5 February; investigators have not ruled out the
possibility that his comments in court at the time might themselves have
been a coded message to the killers to carry out their mission. 

The murder was captured on video tape and made public on the eve of the
Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, when sheep are ritually slaughtered by
having their throats slit before being roasted. Mr Pearl, too, had his
throat slit – a symbolic parallel that investigators believe was
deliberate. 

President Musharraf vowed, in a television address on Friday night, to
deal with Mr Pearl's abductors with an "iron hand". 
 
Source:  The Independent on Sunday 

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