January 2002 News

Pak group sends photos of US reporter in captivity

27 January 2002
The Indian Express

New York: A group calling itself “The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty” said it has seized Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who has been missing in Karachi since Wednesday. The group sent an e-mail message to various news organizations Sunday with pictures of Pearl — based in Mumbai — in captivity, including one with a gun pointed at his head, and claimed he was a ‘‘CIA officer’’ who was ‘‘posing as a journalist’’. The e-mail message said Pearl was being kept ‘‘in very inhuman (sic) circumstances quite similar in fact to the way Pakistanis and nationals of other sovereign countries are being kept in Cuba by the American Army. If the Americans keep our countrymen in better conditions, than we will better the conditions of Pearl and all other Americans that we capture.’’ (Pak police sources told AP they believed the kidnapping was carried out by the Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, which is linked to the al-Qaeda and is on the US government’s list of terrorist organisations. A number of Harkat fighters were known to have been killed in Afghanistan during the bombing campaign.) Pearl (38) was in Karachi seeking to interview leaders of radical Islamic groups for possible articles on the war’s impact on the region. He was accompanied to the Pakistan city by his wife, Mariane, who is a French citizen and is pregnant. A full-time reporter for The Wall Street Journal for 12 years, Pearl had been based in Mumbai since December 2000. Though the CIA normally doesn’t discuss such matters, spokesman Bill Harlow said that ‘‘in this case I can assure you that Pearl does not now, nor has he ever, worked for the CIA’’. In its statement, the Journal said that ‘‘in the interest of humanity, the terrorists should release Pearl immediately. Nothing can be served by his continued detention. We are working with all parties who can contribute to this end and will continue to do so.’’ The e-mail message sent out Sunday said that if the U.S. ‘‘wants the release of Pearl, all Pakistanis being illegally detained by the FBI inside America merely on suspicion must be given access to lawyers and allowed seeing [sic] their family members.’’ It also said that Pakistani prisoners in Cuba ‘‘must be returned to Pakistan and they will be tried in a Pakistani Court. After all Pakistan was a full member of the international coalition against terror and it deserves the right to try its own citizens.’’ The e-mail message also called for sending Afghanistan’s ambassador Mulla Zaeef back to Pakistan ‘‘and if there is any accusition (sic) Pakistani Government should handle it’’. Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban’s former ambassador to Pakistan and most-recognized spokesman, was deported from Pakistan to Afghanistan in early January and turned over to U.S. military forces there. Zaeef had requested political asylum but was turned down by the Pakistani government. He is one of the highest-ranking Taliban officials in U.S. custody.

 

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