Wall Street Journal Reporter Pearl Led on Convoluted Journey to his Death
by Afzal Nadeem, Associated Press
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) - The route was convoluted and involved a change of vehicles and planned rendezvous points. American reporter Daniel Pearl appeared calm throughout, apparently accepting the subterfuge as security demanded by the source he had gone to meet, according to new details about his abduction and murder.
Pearl, the Wall Street Journal's South Asia correspondent, disappeared Jan. 23 in Karachi while researching links between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, a Briton arrested in December on a Paris-Miami flight, allegedly with explosives in his shoe.
The 38-year-old Pearl was picked up by a taxi on a street outside a restaurant near the Metropole Hotel and driven to Banaras Chowk, a western neighborhood of Karachi, sources close to the investigation on Wednesday quoted three suspects in custody as telling police investigators.
From there, he was taken in a 16-seat van to a house in Orangi town, also on the western edge of Karachi.
During the three- to four-hour trip from the hotel to the house, "he did not resist. He went with them calmly," the sources said. "When they took him to a home, he asked, 'Where is the man I wanted to meet?' "
Pearl's captors tied him up with rope and kept him in the house for 24 hours. The following night they took him to Gadap, a neighborhood about 20 miles from the center of Karachi, the sources said.
The new detainees have provided valuable details about Pearl's final hours. Previously, all that had come out was the court testimony of a taxi driver who said he took Pearl to a Jan. 23 rendezvous with Muslim militants and that he saw him get into another car.
Last Friday, dismembered remains, including a severed head, were unearthed in Gadap near a blood-splattered shack where authorities believe Pearl was held. Police were led to the area by the three suspects, whom Pakistan television identified as members of a radical Muslim group, Lashkar-e-Janghvi, with links to al-Qaida.
However, police have not yet charged them in the Pearl case, for fear of influencing the trial already under way of four Islamic militants, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The militants, including chief suspect Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, have pleaded innocent to Pearl's kidnapping and murder. Their trial, which began April 22, hit a potential hurdle with the recent discovery of a body believed to be Pearl's.
Prosecutors have been trying to speed up the trial because if DNA tests confirm it is the American journalist, and if new suspects are charged as a result, they may be forced to call a retrial.
The results of DNA tests on hair and blood samples taken from the body are not expected for a week.
On Wednesday, prosecutors fumed over what they called the defense's "delaying tactics." The trial is adjourned until Monday, when the prosecution plans to call two senior police officials as witnesses.
Pearl's widow, Mariane Pearl, a free-lance journalist now living in Paris, has agreed to testify after her baby's birth, expected around June 2, her attorney, M. Jamil, said Wednesday.
As the chief complainant in the case, she is required by Pakistani law to testify.
Defense attorneys, characterizing Mariane Pearl's testimony as key, pushed to have the trial postponed until she can take the stand.
"Unless the deposition of (Mariane Pearl) is taken, there is nothing left in the case," said defense attorney Mohsin Imam said. "We've got to have the deposition. That's the most important thing."
On Wednesday, Chief Prosecutor Raja Quereshi criticized the defense's insistence on Pearl's testimony.
"It appears that the defense has now resorted to delaying tactics to avoid further proceedings," he said.