Washington: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was killed in 2002 by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and not by Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death for the killing a year later and now awaits the outcome of his appeal to the Sindh High Court.
Time magazine quoted President General Pervez Musharraf’s book In the Line of Fire as saying that Musharraf himself speculated 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed of killing Pearl or at least having a role in his butchery.
“In the Line of Fire, speculates that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was ‘the man who may have actually killed Pearl or at least participated in his butchery.’ According to Musharraf, ‘When we later arrested and interrogated him, he admitted his participation’,” the Daily Times quoted the Time report as saying.
According to the magazine, several US officials have confirmed that Khalid Sheikh Muhammed confessed under CIA interrogation that he personally committed the murder.
A former US national security official told Time that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad personally wielded the knife that killed the Wall Street Journal reporter.
He said Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh insisted under interrogation that taking Pearl’s life was not at first part of the kidnap plot, but he could not be released either as he was Jewish.
“As the scheme unfolded, someone senior to him in the al-Qaeda hierarchy, known as ‘the fat man,’ took control of the operation and beheaded Pearl. Sheikh never identified Khalid Sheikh Mohammad as the actual killer, however,” the official said.
“The FBI deduced Khalid Sheikh Mohammad role only after analysing a video of the crime, in which only the perpetrator’s hands are visible. That video was released by Islamic militants soon after Pearl’s murder and then widely shown on Arabb television and the Internet. Eventually, the FBI obtained its own version of the original video, as well as the camera used to photograph the murder,” he added.
“Once Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was picked up in March 2003, a comparison of the hands shown in the video and his own hands, along with other evidence, confirmed the FBI’s suspicions. Then, under interrogation, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad confessed, admitting without remorse that he personally severed Pearl’s head, telling interrogators he had to switch knives after the first one “got dull”,” the official further said.
As such the Bush administration plans to charge him not only with the 9/11 plot, but also with direct responsibility for Pearl’s death, when he faces a military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay, the official added.
Incidentally, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was one of 14 “high value” prisoners recently moved to the US detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, from secret CIA prisons overseas.