Pakistani national convicted of murdering Israeli journalist may be let free this week
A Pakistani man convicted of kidnapping and murdering Jewish American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 could be a free man this week after the country’s Supreme Court refused to overturn a decision commuting his death sentence.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has served 18 years in prison and first learned of his pending release in April, after a court ruled instead that his death sentence should be commuted to seven years, which he has already served.
Jewish groups around the world have petitioned the Pakistani government not to release the killer of the Wall Street Journal reporter, who was in Pakistan investigating al-Qaeda when he was kidnapped in Karachi in February 2002.
His kidnappers are thought to have included Sheikh. They later beheaded Pearl. His killing was filmed and broadcast, titled ‘The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl.’
In it Pearl says: “I’m a Jewish American… On my father’s side the family is Zionist. My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish. My family follows Judaism. We’ve made numerous family visits to Israel.”
Sheikh, 46, grew up in east London before being radicalised in Pakistan. He was sentenced to death but most analysts believe that he was only involved in Pearl’s kidnap, not his killing.
Instead, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an organiser of the 9/11 attacks, who was tortured extensively at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, has confessed to personally killing Pearl, however his torture renders his admission unreliable.