Officials suspect Qari Abdul Hayee facilitated Daniel Pearl's kidnapping
The Wall Street Journal reporter was kidnapped and decapitated in 2002
A suspected 9/11 mastermind confessed to killing Pearl
He was in Karachi researching a story about militants and terrorism
Pakistani officials have arrested a suspect in connection with the gruesome 2002 beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Qari Abdul Hayee is believed to be the one who facilitated Pearl’s kidnapping, a senior Pakistani official said.
The official, who had direct knowledge of the arrest, did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Pearl was kidnapped while researching a story in Karachi about Pakistani militants and the so-called “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.
He was later decapitated, and a video of his killing was sent to U.S. officials.
The chilling video
In addition to showing violent footage of Pearl’s death, the video also showed Pearl discussing his Jewish heritage and making propaganda statements, apparently under duress.
The tape began with the correspondent saying, “My name is Daniel Pearl. I’m a Jewish-American.”
“My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish. I am a Jew,” he said.
Then, looking at the camera, he recounted numerous family visits to Israel and noted that a street in a town in Israel was named after his great-grandfather, who was one of the founders of the town.
On the tape, the group that claimed responsibility for Pearl’s abduction – the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistan’s Sovereignty – demanded that Pakistanis being held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be released.
The group also demanded an end to the U.S. presence in Pakistan end as well as the delivery of F-16 fighter jets, which Pakistan purchased from the United States but never received.
Hayee was arrested Sunday in a paramilitary operation targeting militants in Karachi.
“It was a covert operation based on intelligence information,” the Pakistani official said.
Troops also recovered weapons during the raid that netted Hayee, the official said.
Hayee joins several other suspects who have been arrested in connection with Pearl’s kidnapping and murder.
Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Islamic militant, was sentenced to death by hanging by an anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad in connection with Pearl’s murder.
Three accomplices received life sentences, which in Pakistan usually means 25 years.
In 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – who is also a suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the United States – was arrested in Pakistan and has confessed to killing Pearl.
Federal agents backed up Mohammed’s confession by comparing photos of the veins in his hands and the vein patterns of an assailant in the video of Pearl’s killing, according to a report by Georgetown University students and faculty and the Center for Public Integrity.
But Mohammed has not been charged in Pearl’s death. According to the report, U.S. officials decided against bringing charges in the Pearl case to avoid complicating Mohammed’s prosecution for the 9/11 attacks.
Al Qaeda expert Rohan Gunaratna said Mohammed ordered Pearl’s death.
“Daniel Pearl was going in search of the al Qaeda network that was operational in Karachi, and it was at the instruction of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that Daniel Pearl was killed,” Gunaratna said.
Words from his widow
Pearl’s death should be a global wake-up call about “a vast and international network of terrorists,” his widow said.
“I know Danny has not been defeated” by those who killed him, Mariane Pearl told CNN weeks after her husband’s death. “His spirit, his faith and his conviction have not been defeated.”
She said governments across the world must take responsibility for fighting terror and citizens should take an active role in considering their countries’ foreign policies.
“If people in the world do not realize that they’re not immune against this anymore, then nothing will,” she said.