U.S. Expands Options to Respond to Kidnaping of U.S. Nationals as Pearl Murder Raises Stakes for Obtaining Custody of Saeed

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Monday, April 1, 2002
Bruce Zagaris
On February 19, 2002, the media reported changes adopted by the Bush Administration in its response to kidnaping of U.S. nationals overseas. The policy review started in the Clinton Administration and was made in recent months before the kidnaping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was kidnaped in Karachi on January 23, 2001 while he researched a story on Islamic militants. Mr. Boucher said the Pearl kidnaping was not responsible for the policy recommendation to consider official action in the case of private citizens. According to a media report, on February 21, 2002, a minor suspect in the case reported to a Karachi court that Pearl was targeted partly because he was “anti-Islam and a Jew.” It appears that Pearl’s abduction resulted from a carefully planned operation involving weeks of interactions. A British native, Saeed affiliated with the Jaish-i-Muhammad terrorist group fighting India’s rule in Kashmir. Police say Saeed shaved his beard and met Pearl in January in Rawalpindi near Islamabad. As recently as January 24, 2002, the day after Mr. Pearl’s kidnaping, Ambassador Chamberlin requested custody of Saeed directly ro Me. Musharraf in a meeting in which F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III accompanied her on his visit to Pakistan. Prior to learning that Pearl was a suspect in pearl’s kidnaping, the U.S. had request Saeed’s extradition in connection with the 1994 kidnaping of four Westerners in India, including a U.S. national. An initial decision will occur on whether the U.S. will ask Pakistan to extradite or surrender custody of Saeed and the any of the other persons suspected of participating in the kidnaping and murder of Pearl.