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February 6, 2002
1338 IST

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Pearl case: Jaish leader Omar Sheikh appears to be key suspect

K J M Varma in Islamabad

Outlawed militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohamad leader Omar Sheikh appears to have emerged as the key suspect in the kidnapping of American journalist Daniel Pearl over two weeks ago in Karachi following interrogation of three militants arrested in connection with the case.

Omar Sheikh is one of the militants released by the government in exchange for the passengers of Indian Airlines Flight IC 814, which was hijacked to Kandahar.

The trio, arrested on Tuesday, when quizzed by the Pakistan police said the photograph of Pearl sent along with the e-mails were given to them by Omar, English daily Dawn reported on Wednesday from Karachi.

Quoting sources, it said, the police picked up the militants from Karachi. While the names of two of them are known - Fawad and Salman, the identity of the third remains to be ascertained.

The three men were said to have been working as intermediaries between the Wall Street Journal journalist and militant outfits. Pearl had reportedly interviewed members of militant groups through these men.

"We are very close to solving this case," home secretary of the provincial Sindh government, Mukhtar Ahmed Shah, told reporters adding, it 'could be today or tomorrow'.

Another newspaper The Nation reported that the kidnapping of Pearl may end 'in a day or two' as police has closed in on the gang that had abducted the US journalist on January 23 in Karachi.

Two prime suspects, who had sent the earlier two e-mails with Pearl's pictures, have been arrested by the joint Pak-US probe team and the computers and scanner used by them have been recovered, it said.

EARLIER REPORT:
Prime suspects named in Pearl abduction, 6 arrested

RELATED REPORTS:
IC 814 hijack: 154 hostages exchanged for 3 militants
CBI probing possibility of link between IC 814 hijacking and attacks in US
Delhi police link Asif Raza with Omar Sheikh

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(c) Copyright 2001 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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