Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Pakistani Police Make Arrests, Raids in Case of Kidnapped U.S. Journalist

Pakistani Police Make Arrests, Raids in Case of Kidnapped U.S. Journalist

Publication: ABC News
Date: February 5, 2002
URL: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/pakistan_pearl020205.html

Local police and the FBI made at least five raids on homes today, arresting three people and uncovering a key piece of evidence - a computer believed to have been used to issue e-mail demands in exchange for Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal.

Sources identified the three by the names Fahd, Adeel and Sulieman. At least one of the men arrested confessed to sending those e-mails, police said.

"We have significant evidence now to lead us to the man who is responsible for this," said Kamal Shah, the chief of police in Karachi.

Investigators have also identified two key suspects: Mohammed Hashim Qadeer, known to be a member of a terrorist group that hijacked an Indian Airlines jet in 1999, and Sheik Omar Saeed, who was freed from an Indian prison as part of the deal that ended that hijacking.

Saeed is believed to be the ringleader of the kidnapping. Four members of Saeed's family have been taken into custody.

"Daniel may not be with [Saeed], but he knows where Daniel is being kept," Shah said.

Earlier today, Karachi police said Qadeer, who also goes by the alias Arif, along with two other men known by the aliases of Imtiaz Siddiqui and Choudrey Bashir, acted as intermediaries in Pearl's efforts to get an interview with a Muslim cleric last month.

Police conducted a search of Qadeer's home in the central Pakistani city of Lahore late Monday and temporarily detained a man wrongly thought to be Qadeer.

According to Pakistani police, Qadeer had introduced Pearl to Bashir, who was supposed to take the reporter to a meeting with Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, leader of the radical Islamic group Jamaat al-Fuqra.

Gilani was detained by police last week and has denied involvement in The Wall Street Journal staffer's disappearance.

The three men were tracked through cell phone records and e-mails. Karachi police said their investigation has taken so long because they have not ever had a case that depends on the use of high-tech tools. They also say they wouldn't have gotten so far without the help of the FBI.

An Impassioned Plea

There have been few breaks in this case, which has caused deep concern in diplomatic circles and among Pearl's fellow journalists.

On Monday, Pearl's wife Marianne, who is six months pregnant with the couple's first child, pleaded in a television interview for her husband's release and urged the kidnappers to contact her.

"Don't harm an innocent man because you're just going to create one more misery," she said in Karachi in an interview with the BBC. "Using Daniel as a symbol and all of this is completely wrong, completely wrong."

"If anyone's going to give his life to save him, it's me," she said. "Please make contact with me - I'm ready."

The Wall Street Journal issued a statement today, saying: "We remain hopeful that he is still alive."

Paul Steiger, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, also issued a statement on Monday asking the kidnappers to begin a dialogue that would address their concerns and bring about Pearl's safe release.

A series of hoax e-mails sent by individuals in recent days claiming to be Pearl's kidnappers have created confusion, Steiger wrote in the open letter. "Also these numerous messages, which have been made public, detract from your serious concerns."

The demands of the kidnappers, who call themselves the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty, have included better treatment of U.S.-held prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the return of some prisoners to Pakistan for trial; and the departure of U.S. journalists from Pakistan this past week.

They also accused Pearl, 38, of working for American and later Israeli intelligence, charges the U.S. government and The Wall Street Journal have denied.

Steiger suggested using an e-mail account or telephone of one of Pearl's close friends to communicate with the kidnappers.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also appealed to Pearl's kidnappers and asked them to contact the Journal privately or with a public statement proving the reporter is alive. "One way to do this would be to provide a photograph of Danny holding today's newspaper," the committee said in a statement.

U.S. Official Urges Pakistan to Act

Pakistani officials said they were hopeful Pearl, originally from New Jersey, was still alive and that the investigation into his disappearance had intensified and includes U.S. federal investigators. Officials believe the last authentic e-mail from Pearl's purported kidnappers came in last Wednesday. Three hoax messages have been traced to a 16-year-old boy in Lahore, police said.

Police also said the body of a gunshot victim found Sunday in the Karachi area was not that of Pearl, as initially reported.

Pearl, a foreign correspondent normally based in India, disappeared while reporting on possible links between Pakistani militants and Richard Reid, the shoe-bomb suspect arrested on a flight from Paris to the United States in December.

(ABCNEWS' Jeffrey Kofman in Karachi, Pakistan, Martha Raddatz in Washington and the I-Team contributed to this report.)

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