Pakistani security forces have arrested a suspect in the 2002 murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl in the port city of Karachi, according to Pakistani police and military officials.
Qari Abdul Hayee, a former leader of the Sunni sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, or LeJ, was aware of the plan to kidnap Pearl, the Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, who was later decapitated, according to a military official with knowledge of the detention, who asked not to be named because he isn’t authorized to comment on the case.
Imran Shaukat, the spokesman for police in Sindh province, confirmed Hayee’s arrest during a press briefing in Karachi.
Hayee was LeJ head in Sindh province when Pearl was killed and was wanted for his alleged involvement in deadly attacks on the country’s Shiite minority, the military official said. A video of Pearl’s decapitation was sent to the U.S. consulate in Karachi.
The U.S. State Department in 2003 listed LeJ as a terrorist group, saying it had links to al-Qaeda and was involved in Pearl’s murder.
Pakistan’s former Interior Minister Rehman Malik said last month that the group was responsible for 80 percent of terrorist activity in the country after a surge in attacks on Shiites, Geo television reported.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks who is imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, carried out the killing. Mohammed, identified by the 9/11 Commission report as “principal architect” of the 2001 terrorist strikes, told a March 2007 U.S. military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that he had personally slit Pearl’s throat and beheaded him.
U.K.-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Sheikh was sentenced to death in July 2002 for murdering the journalist and being the lead planner in his capture. He’s still in prison.
Three of his collaborators received life sentences for assisting in the kidnapping and ransom requests.
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