Did Pakistan Punish the Wrong Persons for Daniel Pearl’s murder?



By Abdullah Nizamani


Daniel Pearl, the slain journalist, was working on his assignment as South Asia Bureau Chief of Wall Street Journal when was brutally murdered in Karachi in 2002.

Though he was based in Islamabad but temporarily moved, along with his wife Marian, to his Indian colleague Asra Nomani’s residence in Karachi who was working on her book.

Asra Nomani has done tremendous work to follow the case of Danny. She has written extensively in this regard. Asra Nomani established The Pearl Project and published The Truth Left Behind, an investigative report, containing every minutiae detail of Daniel Pearl case.

Daniel Pearl was in search of story regarding Richard Reid, the shoe bomber fame. Danny believed he was facilitated by Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani.

In search of his quest, Daniel Pearl was deceived by Omar Saeed Sheikh that he will arrange his meeting with Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani. Omar Saeed Sheikh plotted the abduction of Daniel Pearl and through his accomplice, asked him to come to Village Restaurant, Karachi to meet Mubarik Shah. Daniel Pearl, unaware of plot, turned up at the designated venue. From where he was driven to Ahsanabad, in the outskirts of Karachi. He thought he’s being taken for a pre-arranged meeting with Sheikh Mubarak. Fazal Karim, working as driver of Saud Memon a Karachi based businessman, drove Danny to the compound in Ahsanabad which was owned by Memon.

Danny was undressed and his belongings were taken away. Still he did not know that he had been abducted. He asked his captors that why are you doing this to me?

Omar Saeed Sheikh was being constantly fed about the progress, in the meantime he left Karachi for unknown reason.

Daniel Pearl was kept at the compound for some days and his captors sent their first ransom email asking for halt of torture on Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Until that time the captors of Daniel Pearl believed he was a CIA spy but were not aware of the Jewish heritage of Danny till the time Kamran Khan wrote about it. Kamran Khan was the first person to publicly reveal the identity of Daniel Pearl which led to his slaughter.

Karachi police continued its efforts and found a clue through IP address of ransom email. The location was stormed and it turned out to be the house of an aunt of Omar Saeed Sheikh. Two cousins of Omar Sheikh were held and police used the typical leverage to pressurise Omar Sheikh. Omar Sheikh was contacted and asked about Daniel Pearl. Initially he was unwilling to accept but later conceded abduction of Danny. Sheikh didn’t tell location where Danny was kept.

Pressure was exerted on Omar Sheikh through his uncle who was serving as a Judge at Lahore High Court. Finally, Omar Sheikh surrendered before Aijaz Shah, then Home Secretary of Punjab on 5th February, 2002 and was handed over to Police after a week. It is believed Omar Sheikh was in ISI custody during that one week.

Immediately after Omar Saeed Sheikh’s surrender, US Consulate was contacted by a disguising journalist who claimed to have footage of Daniel Pearl’s slaughter. The 3:35 minute footage was handed over by a courier to an FBI agent in Sheraton Hotel, Karachi. Still no one was aware of Danny’s remains. Daniel Pearl is believed to be murdered in early February and with the arrest of Fazal Karim in May, the puzzle of Danny’s remains was solved. Fazal Karim took police to Ahsanabad compound to recover the remains. Daniel Pearl was kept, slaughtered and buried at the compound of Saud Memon and it’s still uncertain whether Saud Memon was in the loop of his murder plot or not.

Saud Memon went missing in 2003 and found dumped in barely alive condition outside his house in 2007. Soon he died without revealing anything.

On the other hand, murder trial of Daniel Pearl case started at Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Karachi which was immediately transferred to ATC in Hyderabad for security reasons.

In few months the judgement was pronounced in haste in Daniel Pearl case convicting Omar Saeed Sheikh with death sentence and his three accomplices were awarded life imprisonment. Omar Saeed Sheikh confessed abduction of Daniel Pearl but denied charges of his murder. His conviction was based on Danny’s murder charge.

Question arises, if indeed Omar Saeed Sheikh has not murdered Daniel Pearl then who did it?

During Danny’s captivity, Al Qaida got involved in it which was keen to take revenge of America for its Afghanistan invasion and brutal treatment of alleged Al-Qaida commanders at Guantanamo Bay prison.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, KSM, the mastermind of 9/11 attacks, was tasked to deal with Daniel Pearl. KSM visited the compound where Danny was kept. On his second visit, Daniel Pearl was ruthlessly slaughtered with his “blessed right hand” as KSM proudly claims slaughtering Daniel Pearl.

Usually confession in custody or as an outcome of torture is unreliable, since KSM was tortured in GTMO before confessing Danny’s murder but as per The Pearl Project report, KSM was indeed the man who slit the throat of Daniel Peart because FBI conducted a thorough forensic investigation of KSM’s right hand and the hand of murderer and found no difference between the two.

Since beginning Omar Saeed Sheikh denied killing Daniel Pearl and with KSM’s confession followed by forensic investigation of FBI, Omar Sheikh stands vindicated.

The family of Daniel Pearl is yet to get justice because the killer of Danny is yet to face the trial as Omar Saeed Sheikh had been wrongly awarded death sentence for allegedly killing Daniel Pearl which he did not though he abducted him. It is apparent that Omar Saeed Sheikh abducted and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad slaughtered Daniel Pearl. Omar Saeed Sheikh deserves to be convicted for plotting Daniel Pearl’s abduction and KSM needs to be tried for brutally killing Daniel Pearl.

Abdullah Nizamani is a lawyer and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. You can follow him on Twitter @AbdulahNizamani.


NOTE: Views expressed are the author’s own. Janta Ka Reporter does not endorse any of the views, facts, incidents mentioned in this piece.