Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and assassination is still the center of attention of the world's mass media. It seemed that the organizers of the crime had been found, as one of the leaders of the Pakistani extremists, Ahmed Omar Said Sheikh, was arrested and charged for the crime. Islamabad promised to do its best in order to find and capture the people who carried out the terrorist act.
However, it seems that the organizers of Pearl’s assassination should be searched for not among fundamentalists, but within the Pakistani intelligence, the ISI. One may come to such a conclusion after the Japanese newspaper Mainichi published the materials of its research concerning the Daniel Pearl case.
As the newspaper informed, Ahmed Omar Said Sheikh set up an extremist organization called Jaish-e-Mohammad with the support of the Pakistani special services. This organization was conducting its terrorist activities in India, and it had contacts with Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. In other words, the Pakistani special services were in touch with Bin Laden’s terrorists.
When Daniel Pearl’s name became world known, Omar Sheikh yielded to the authorities on February 5 of his own free will and confessed his participation in the organization of the crime in a rather a confusing way. According to the scenario of the special services, Daniel Pearl should have been released after a phone conversation between the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, and American President George Bush on February 13. Sheikh was supposed to be released as well, allegedly due to lack of evidence. However, this did not work: the interrogations of the kidnapped American journalist showed that he knew too much aboutthe ISI and Al-Qaida. Pearl was killed as a result, and Ahmed Omar Said Sheikh became the prime suspect.
Pakistan refused to deliver him to the USA, and Sheikh is expecting his sentence to be brought down in the middle of April. The Japanese newspaper reported that the ISI is insisting on the death penalty for their former agent. This information might be true.
The contacts between the Pakistani special services, the Taliban, and terrorists in Kashmir are not something new to learn about. After the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had to dismiss General Ahmad from his position as intelligence chief (Ahmad openly sympathized with the Taliban), in spite of the fact that General Ahmad played a very big role for Musharraf during and after the coup, which empowered Musharraf to become the president of Pakistan. It is also known that President Musharraf has had close contacts with the radical Muslim organization Jamaat-e-Islam.
At present, Musharraf is trying to weaken the influence of the radical Muslims: several organizations have been banned, and hundreds of activists have been arrested. However, this does not mean that the radicals do not have their protectors withinn the special services of Pakistan: the longstanding contacts cannot be broken in a moment.
In addition, the Pakistani administration was trying to blame the Indian special services after Daniel Pearl had been kidnapped, but noone really believed that India was involved. Therefore, the “Indian version” was no longer used.
Should the research of the Japanese journalists prove itself correct or false, there is one thing clear: the Pakistani intelligence agencies are currently very powerful, and touching upon its interests is like a suicide for Pervez Musharraf (although the special services pose the biggest threat to his power).
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov