Police said Tuesday they have arrested two men suspected of involvement in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti were arrested Monday in Kashmor, a town some 300 miles northeast of Karachi, said Saghir Mugheri, an area police officer.
Mugheri said both men were alleged members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant organization linked to al-Qaida.
A senior detective among the team investigating Pearl’s case said Rehman was suspected of leading the gang that kidnapped Pearl in Karachi on Jan. 23, 2002.
Rehman, also known as Naim Bukhari, supervised the reporter’s detention in a shack where he was held for several days before he was killed, said the detective, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Seized recently or in 2003?
Mugheri said police seized the pair in a car traveling toward Baluchistan province and that weapons and explosives were found in the vehicle. He said they would be transferred to Karachi for further investigation.
However, Maqboolur Rehman, a human rights lawyer who is not related to Attaur Rehman, claimed the two suspects had been in custody since police seized them from Karachi’s Nazimabad neighborhood in 2003.
Rehman said the men’s families had heard nothing from or about them ever since and that they had filed complaints to the provincial High Court in Karachi.
Several convicted over beheading
Pearl was abducted from Karachi while researching a story on Islamic militancy. His remains were later found in a shallow grave in Karachi’s eastern outskirts.
Pakistan has convicted several men in the case. British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh was sentenced to death in July 2002 and his three accomplices were given life prison terms. Their appeals are pending before the Sindh High Court.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — al-Qaida’s No. 3 leader, who was caught in Pakistan and is now being held at the U.S. prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — said he personally beheaded Pearl, according to a partial Pentagon transcript of his testimony at a military tribunal.