April 3, 2020

Pakistan Arrests Militant Suspected in Daniel Pearl Killing

The militant, Qari Abdul Hayee, a leader of the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was arrested by the paramilitary Rangers force on Sunday in Karachi, the city where Mr. Pearl was held hostage and killed.

“We were after him for the past three weeks,” a senior Rangers official said on the condition of anonymity. “We had information he was in Karachi.”

Mr. Hayee appears to have been arrested as part of a crackdown by the security forces amid widespread criticism after two bombings in Quetta and a third attack in Karachi this month, all of which targeted Shiites and are thought to be the work of Lashkar militants.

The Rangers official said Mr. Hayee had been handed over to the city police’s Crime Investigation Department on Sunday evening. But police sources in Karachi, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, denied that he was in their custody.

Mr. Hayee has been arrested before. In 2003 in Multan, a city in the southern part of Punjab Province, he was held in connection with the death of six Shiites. He was later acquitted and continued to live freely in Punjab Province, where Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has its strongest roots.

Pakistani officials have said Mr. Hayee and other figures in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are also suspected of being at least partly involved in the abduction of Mr. Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, though not in his killing. Mr. Hayee has been described as a “facilitator” who had close ties with other men involved in the kidnapping. When he was arrested in the Shiite killings, which dated to the 1990s, Mr. Hayee was also investigated for his role in the Pearl case, though he has not been charged.

Mr. Hayee, who also goes by the name of Asadullah, was identified as a weapons and explosives expert for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Pakistan’s most notorious sectarian militant outfit. The group has returned to prominence this year after claiming responsibility for the two bombings in Quetta, which killed about 200 Shiites, mostly from the ethnic Hazara minority.

Pakistani officials declined to share the details of Mr. Hayee’s arrest. He was reported to have been arrested on University Road, which runs through several residential neighborhoods and educational campuses, but it was not clear where he was being held or what charges were being considered. A private security consultant in Karachi speculated that Mr. Hayee might have been visiting madrasas in the Safari Park neighborhood, near University Road.

Mr. Pearl was abducted in January 2002 in Karachi and was beheaded the next month. His killing sent shock waves throughout the world and was one of the first known instances of major collaboration between Al Qaeda and established militant groups in Pakistan. The increasing melding and cooperation among such groups in Pakistan’s tribal belt has helped define the struggle against militants within Pakistan, the war next door in Afghanistan and the global effort against terrorism. Mr. Hayee is one of several militant figures still being sought in Mr. Pearl’s death. The two central figures in that crime are in prison: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the Qaeda operational mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the one who wielded the knife against Mr. Pearl; and Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamic militant who lured Mr. Pearl to an interview and then kidnapped him.

Mr. Sheikh was convicted and sentenced to death in the Pearl case in July 2002. Seven others were sentenced in absentia, and two were later killed in shootouts with the police. Mr. Sheikh has appealed his sentence.

Although still in prison, Mr. Sheikh continues to make headlines.

In 2008, as tensions mounted between Pakistan and India over an attack on the Indian city of Mumbai by another militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Mr. Sheikh managed to make a hoax call to President Asif Ali Zardari and the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in which he pretended to be the Indian foreign minister and threatened Pakistan with an Indian attack.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/world/asia/suspect-in-daniel-pearl-killing-is-arrested-in-pakistan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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