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U.S., Pakistan to Discuss Extraditing Pearl Kidnapping Suspects

BY Admin  February 25, 2002 at 12:00 PM EST

The president said he’s talked with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who seemed “distraught” and “disturbed” by Pearl’s death.

“[President Musharraf] knew full well that those killers did not represent the vast, vast majority of the people in his own country,” Mr. Bush said. “And he vowed to me on the phone that he would do everything in his power to chase down the killers and bring them to justice.”

Among those in custody is the group’s alleged leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a 28-year-old British-born militant U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin called “a nasty character.”

Saeed “has been involved as a suspect in kidnappings and crimes against American citizens for years,” Chamberlin told CBS News early today.

Chamberlin confirmed the U.S. had tried to extradite Saeed at least two months before Pearl’s abduction for his alleged role in an earlier kidnapping. She said she will discuss extradition again Tuesday when she meets with Musharraf.

Saeed was arrested in India in 1994 for allegedly kidnapping U.S. and British tourists. He was released in 1999 in exchange for 155 captives aboard a hijacked Indian airliner. He was arrested in connection with the Pearl case Feb. 12.

The other two suspects, Sheikh Abil and Salman Saquib, were arrested four days earlier. They are accused of sending several ransom e-mails to U.S. and Pakistani media outlets calling Pearl a spy and demanding the release of Pakistani prisoners from a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A Pakistani judge today ordered the three men held for two more weeks while prosecutors gather the case against them.

Raja Qureshi, the advocate general of Karachi’s Sindh province government, told reporters the judge issued the delay because “the investigation agency wants to recover the dead body and wants to recover the weapon used in the offense,” Reuters reports.

The 38-year-old Pearl was kidnapped Jan. 23 while researching a story on alleged “shoe bomber” Richard Reid’s possible connections to Pakistani militant groups.

Pearl was confirmed dead last Thursday after U.S. And Pakistani officials viewed a videotape they say showed the journalist being attacked by unknown assailants.