A lawyer representing the parents of the murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl has written a handwritten letter to the Pakistani Supreme Court in which the key charged in the case alleged that he was a “scapegoat” arrested under “US pressure” and the real mastermind a Karachi terrorist. Pearl, the 38-year-old head of the Wall Street Journal’s South Asian bureau, was kidnapped and beheaded while investigating a story in Pakistan in 2002 about the links between the country’s powerful espionage agency, ISI, and al-Qaeda. British-born al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and his three aides have been convicted and convicted of the abduction and murder of Pearl. In April they were exonerated by the Sindh High Court and an appeal against their acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court.
According to an Express Tribune report on Sunday, Faisal Siddiqui, lawyer for Perle’s parents, presented the handwritten letter to the Supreme Court in which Sheikh alleged the real culprit was a militant Attaur Rehman from Karachi. Siddiqui notified the Apex Court that the letter was filed with the Sindh High Court on July 19, 2019. In the letter, Sheikh claimed he was a scapegoat arrested under pressure from the US and that the real culprit was Rehman. The letter was drawn up during an appeals hearing against the acquittal of the four defendants in the Pearl murder case. A special three-judge bench, led by Justice Mushir Alam, heard appeals by the Sindh government and Pearl’s parents, Ruth and Judie Pearl, against the Supreme Court ruling.
Siddiqui claimed that the bank had to take this into account. However, the Apex court will rule on this at the next hearing on Jan. 4, the report said. Sheikh further said in his letter that he has been in prison since 2002 under the death sentence, indicted and convicted of kidnapping and murder of Pearl. However, it was publicly known that he neither kidnapped nor murdered Pearl, and this was recognized in his book by the US government and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Sheikh said his role in the case is relatively minor, which does not justify the death sentence, adding that he has already served in prison – most of them in illegal solitary confinement.
According to the letter, US pressure on the Pakistani government at that time (in 2002) was so great that Sheikh was used as a “scapegoat” to ease that pressure. Hence, evidence was fabricated against me to convict me of the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, Sheikh claimed. Later, when the person (Rehman a.k.a. Naeem Bukhari) who actually kidnapped Daniel was arrested, he was not charged on the case as it would have exposed the lies and affidavit that the Musharraf government had used to protect me condemn, he added.
The letter alleged that in spite of Rehman’s 1 million rupees in reward for his role in the case, he was not produced in court but was held in secret Rangers’ custody for five years, then in Sukkur Prison for two years and was only charged with one trumped-up case of possession of drugs. After Rehman’s release, he is said to have organized some of the most devastating attacks Karachi has ever seen, including the demolition of the Rangers headquarters in Nazimabad, where he was previously secretly held, Sheikh claimed.
The letter also alleged that if Ata were executed, the evidence that would prove the truth about Perle’s case would be lost forever. Sheikh therefore asked the court to issue a residence order to ensure that Rehman was not executed until the Pearl case was testified. The court is also asked to have this appeal heard immediately on a daily basis and to bring me and Rehman to a court hearing so that I can be cleared of the trumped-up charges against me and have an opportunity to clarify my actual role in this matter my sentence can be reduced accordingly to one that meets the requirements of justice, ”the letter says. Two days after the Sindh High Court overturned Sheikh’s conviction in April, the Sindh government appealed to law enforcement to keep the four convicts in jail.
Although exonerated by the court, the Sindh government has refused to release Sheikh on the grounds that he could pose a threat to public order.