Report: Suspect says Pearl killing part of larger plot
KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- The suspected ringleader in the kidnapping of slain U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl also intended to harm American interests as part of the abduction plan, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Citing U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, the newspaper reported that Ahmed Omar Sheikh told investigators that Pearl was killed as part of a plot that would include an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, a port city in southern Pakistan.
Pakistan Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said investigators have Sheikh and three accomplices in custody. Sheikh, who allegedly admitted he arranged the kidnapping, is to appear again Monday in a Pakistani court.
The Pakistani government said it was intensifying efforts to find four more suspects and the body of the reporter, whose death was confirmed Thursday. Pearl was abducted January 23 in Karachi.
Wendy Chamberlin, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, said she had no doubt of Pakistan's commitment to solving the case and fighting terrorism.
"On January 12, there was an equally important pronouncement by [Pakistan President Pervez] Musharraf in which he dedicated the government here to a campaign against terrorism anywhere in the world," Chamberlin said. "And that certainly has been our experience. Very close cooperation with the Pakistani officials at all levels."
Pakistani newspapers Saturday repeated their condemnation of Pearl's slaying and the government's vow to track down the reporter's killers.
But Islamic religious leader Syed Munawar Hasan accused the government of being unfair to Islamic groups and incorrectly aligning itself with the United States.
U.S. officials said they were examining a videotape said to show Pearl's slaying, trying to determine when the reporter was killed and looking for clues that could lead to finding his killers.
U.S. authorities acquired the three-and-a-half minute long videotape Thursday night. It showed Pearl talking about his being Jewish and the Pakistani prisoners from the war in Afghanistan now in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a source close to the probe told CNN.
Fahad Naseem, a suspect in Pearl's kidnapping, told a judge last week that the plot's accused mastermind, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, told him he had wanted to kidnap someone Jewish and anti-Islamic. The Journal denies Pearl's writings were anti-Islamic.
Another part of the tape indicates Pearl was apparently stabbed to death before his throat was slashed, the source said.
The video's details were confirmed by Steven Goldstein, a spokesman for the Journal and vice president of Dow Jones & Co., the newspaper's parent company.
A senior U.S. official said that the tape came into American hands when two men approached an undercover FBI operative they believed to be a journalist.
The location of the two men is unknown.
Pearl was lured from his Karachi apartment last month following a tip from a source regarding his research on an article about possible ties between accused shoe bomber Richard Reid and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.
On Sunday, Goldstein told CNN that Pearl was an "extremely cautious reporter" who had turned down assignments he deemed too risky and would never would have knowingly placed himself in a dangerous situation to get a story.
"Danny was duped. He was an honest and caring person," Goldstein said.
Pearl's widow, Mariane, released a two-page letter Friday thanking the world for the outpouring of support during the monthlong ordeal of her husband's abduction.
She is pregnant with the couple's first child.
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