Tags: Pearl's | Abductor | Charged | With | Murder

Pearl's Abductor to Be Charged With Murder

Monday, 25 February 2002 12:00 AM

The British-born Omar, 28, on Feb. 14 told a court that the reporter was dead. Omar also confessed to being the mastermind behind his abduction.

"Since he was the one to have told the court that Pearl was dead, it is only natural that we charge him," a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity. "We will present a formal charge sheet against him in court today."

Police sealed off the area around the anti-terrorism court with armored personnel carriers and vans. Omar is scheduled to appear in front of the court later in the day.

Three other suspects sought in connection with Pearl's death are Arab nationals thought to be members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network, Pakistani police have said. Pakistani officials believe hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters entered Pakistan from Kabul when their regime collapsed in November.

Pearl, 38, was kidnapped Jan. 23 while working on a story about possible ties between Richard Reid, the accused "shoe bomber" and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Pearl's death was confirmed Thursday in a videotape obtained by U.S. officials.

Omar is a dropout from the London School of Economics. He spent several years in Indian jails for kidnapping Western tourists in New Delhi in 1995. He was freed along with three other radicals in Indian jails in December 1999, after men claiming to be Kashmiri militants hijacked an Indian airliner. They demanded the release of four leaders of the Jaish-i-Mohammed, a Pakistani extremist Islamic party, in return for the hostages.

Pakistani officials have warned U.S. and other Western diplomatic missions and business concerns in the country to increase security. The warning follows reports that some Westerners are on terrorist hit lists.

According to a series of media reports in Pakistan, Omar told his investigators that Pearl's murder was only a warning and there's more to come.

Reacting to such threats, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf vowed Saturday to "destroy all terrorist networks" working in Pakistan. He ordered the security agencies to "catch each and every terrorist involved in this gruesome murder."

Although they have arrested more than 16 suspects, investigators still are looking for some others who, they believe, also played a key role in the abduction and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter.

Included on the list is Amjad Hussain Faruqi, a suspected terrorist who uses five different names, and Hashim Qadeer. Both men -- like Omar himself -- are believed to have close ties with the Taliban and the al-Qaeda network.

This weekend, Pakistani officials said those involved in the Pearl investigation have received threatening telephone calls, telling them to stop the search for the culprits or face the consequences.

Officials said the suspects were using Pearl's cell phone to make the calls.

In Washington, experts say they believe Pearl was killed 10 days before his death was confirmed Feb. 21. They came to the conclusion after examining the victim's unshaven face on the video, which showed a growth of beard.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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The British-born Omar, 28, on Feb. 14 told a court that the reporter was dead. Omar also confessed to being the mastermind behind his abduction. Since he was the one to have told the court that Pearl was dead, it is only natural that we charge him, a police spokesman...
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Monday, 25 February 2002 12:00 AM
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