Official: Suspect Planned Attacks
MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) _ An Islamic militant, suspected of helping plan the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, told police interrogators he had Pakistani politicians on a hit-list and was organizing suicide attacks, an official said Friday.
The suspect, Qari Abdul Hai, the alleged leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group, was arrested from a bus station in Muzaffargarh, 60 miles west of Multan, on Thursday.
He was about to board a bus for the southern city of Karachi, where Pearl was kidnapped and later killed.
Hai came to Muzaffargarh about 12 days ago to allegedly organize suicide attacks, including one at an American-owned power company near Muzaffargarh, city police chief Suleman Chaudhry told The Associated Press.
The suspect had names of several Pakistani politicians on his hit-list, Chaudhry said. He would not give out the names, citing concern for the political leaders’ security.
``We have hundreds of young men who are prepared for suicide attacks,″ Chaudhry quoted Hai as telling investigators.
Hai said his arrest would delay their ``objectives″ but not ``end them,″ said Chaudhry, who said he was personally involved in questioning the man. Hai has since been moved to a prison in Multan, the police chief said.
The militant, whose group was designated as a terrorist organization last year by Washington, is said to be an expert in bomb-making and allegedly ran a terrorist training camp in Karachi.
Four Islamic militants were convicted last year of involvement in the kidnap-slaying of Pearl. One of them, British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, was sentenced to death, and the other three were given life sentences. All four have filed appeals.
Police said Thursday that Hai helped plan the Jan. 23, 2002 kidnapping of Pearl, but they gave no specifics about his role.
Most of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s leaders have either been arrested, killed in police confrontations or gone underground.
Police said there was a $34,485 reward for Hai’s arrest and that he had been linked to the murders of many Shiite Muslims in different parts of the country in recent years.
Hai had close links with the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan.