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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 2/22/2002 11:08:36 PM EST
Kidnapping Suspect Details Plot to Attack U.S. Consulate Fri Feb 22, 3:02 PM ET By DOUGLAS JEHL The New York Times ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 22 — The chief suspect in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was abducted and killed by suspected Islamic militants in Pakistan, has told investigators that the kidnapping was part of a plot that was to have included an attack on the United States consulate in Karachi, intelligence and law enforcement officials said today. The authorities also said that the suspect — Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a British-born militant now in Pakistani custody — has told investigators that Mr. Pearl was slain in late January. Mr. Pearl was kidnapped on Jan. 23 The claims by Mr. Sheikh are among the clues being weighed by American and Pakistani authorities still pursuing others thought to have been involved in the killing, a gruesome beheading recorded on a 3-minute, 50-second digital videotape made available to American investigators in Karachi late on Thursday. One senior Pakistani intelligence official described Mr. Pearl as having been calm at the time of his death. The tape, made on a digital video camera, is now suspected of being part of a longer recording that may be stored on a compact disc, with images and audio recordings of Mr. Pearl in captivity, the officials said. The videotape was given to representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Karachi on Thursday night by a Pakistani journalist who covers Islamic militants and had earlier received word that such a disc might be available to him. The journalist had informed the F.B.I. of that communication. But the officials said no effort had been made to try to follow him, making it impossible to trace whoever provided the videotape to him. Today, as American officials here praised Pakistan for its aggressive pursuit of Mr. Pearl's killers, President Pervez Musharraf vowed in a statement that the killing would not deter him and his government "from acting with all their strength against terrorists and in fighting this menace together with the international community." Until Mr. Pearl's death was confirmed, Pakistani officials have been reluctant to consider such a possibility. But today, senior Pakistani officials said the fact of the murder had made it increasingly likely that they might at some point agree to such a plan. Still, police officials in Karachi and across Pakistan were apparently unsuccessful in their efforts to find Mr. Pearl's body, and there was no immediate sign that the videotape of the slaying had provided clues that might lead to the capture of other suspects. The claims by Mr. Sheikh about the timing of Mr. Pearl's death and a parallel plot to attack the American Consulate in Karachi have not been corroborated, the intelligence and law enforcement officials said. But in providing an account of his statements while in custody, they said he had been aggressive, unapologetic and taunting. Mr. Sheikh, who attended the London School of Economics, is thought to be a leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, or Army of Muhammad, a militant Islamic group that General Musharraf banned last month, as part of his crackdown on extremist groups. He spent five years in an Indian prison, on charges linked to the 1994 kidnapping of Westerners there, and was freed into Afghanistan (news - web sites) in a 1999 hostage-prisoner swap.
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