No proof to link Khalid with Pearl murder: IG
ISLAMABAD: Sindh Police chief Kamal Shah on Thursday said he had no knowledge that would confirm Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
US authorities disclosed this week they believe the killer was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a key lieutenant of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and an alleged planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who was captured in Pakistan 13 months after Pearl was murdered.
But Pakistani authorities are unconvinced. Other intelligence officials also say they have no evidence to support the allegation, although they acknowledge it could be true. “Our investigations never indicated or proved his role in the killing,” Shah told The Associated Press. In his initial questioning, Mohammed never acknowledged any role in the Pearl case, Pakistani intelligence officials said. He was later handed over to US authorities and removed from Pakistan.
Sitting on Pakistan’s death row is a British-born Islamic militant, who used his polished charm and intelligence to lure Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl into a deadly trap in the back lanes of Karachi.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, 28, and three Pakistani accomplices, who were sentenced to 25 years in prison, were believed involved in the kidnapping phase of the case. But police are still looking for the men who held Pearl captive for days or weeks, and who finally killed him by slitting his throat in front of a video camera.
Police here say they have received no further information from his subsequent interrogation.
Pakistani authorities say they are still searching for seven men, all Pakistanis, who they believe comprised the cell that guarded Pearl after he was kidnapped by Sheikh’s gang. Pearl, 38, disappeared Jan. 23, 2002, in Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, while working on a story on Islamic militants. Four days later, a Pakistan newspaper received pictures of Pearl with a gun to his head.
A group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and demanded the release from US custody of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. It was only four weeks later that videotapes arrived at the US Embassy showing Pearl being killed. —AP