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Pearl suspect identified as reporter's contact with militants

With their faces hidden, suspects in the Daniel Pearl case are escorted to a Pakistan court.
With their faces hidden, suspects in the Daniel Pearl case are escorted to a Pakistan court.  

KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- The prime suspect in the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has been identified in a court hearing as the man who passed himself off as a go-between for the head of a fundamentalist group whom Pearl wanted to interview.

British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was identified by Pakistan-based Dow Jones journalist Asif Farooqui Tuesday as the man who called himself Bashir.

Testifying before a magistrate about the case, Farooqui said that he and Bashir met Pearl on January 11 in a Rawalpindi hotel as part of the reporter's attempts to contact Sheikh Mubarik ali Gilani, head of the fundamentalist Islamic Jamaat ul-Fuqra group.

Outside court, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin discussed with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a request by the United States to extradite Omar Sheikh.

Pearl's widow sounds alarm 
Pakistan is being asked to send a key suspect in the killing of journalist Daniel Pearl for trial in the U.S., CNN's Susan Candiotti reports

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Sources in the Pakistani Interior Ministry said the two agreed that Omar Sheikh would remain in Pakistan while attempts were made to recover Pearl's body.

A U.S. official tells CNN that Omar Sheikh was secretly indicted around November, and that the extradition request was first passed on to Pakistan in November.

Intensive negotiations are under way with Pakistan for Omar Sheikh's extradition to the United States, the White House said Monday.

In another development, Khawaja Naveed, the lawyer for three men accused of e-mailing pictures of Pearl while in captivity, said he believes his clients would get a fair trial if extradited to the United States.

Naveed represents Sheikh Adil, Fahad Naseem and Salman Saquib, all accused of taking part in the Pearl kidnapping.

Pearl, who disappeared January 23 in Karachi, was looking into the case of Richard Reid, the man accused of trying to destroy a trans-Atlantic airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes.

Suspect Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh
Suspect Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh  

Pearl was confirmed dead last week.

CNN obtained copies of e-mails this month purportedly sent to Pearl by Omar Sheikh, using the pseudonym Chaudery Bashir Ahmad Shabbir, or simply Bashir. The e-mails suggest that Pearl was lured by promises of an interview with Gilani.

Omar Sheikh, who was arrested February 12, remains in police custody. Police said they are seeking more evidence before formal charges are filed in the case.

Omar Sheikh had been arrested for the 1994 kidnapping in India of three Britons and an American tourist and was released five years later in exchange for the freedom of 155 passengers aboard a hijacked India Air flight.

Washington indicted Omar Sheikh last year in the 1994 kidnapping in India.




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