Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Pakistani suspect admits to role in Daniel Pearl’s beheading

After 18 years of denial, the Pakistani suspect convicted and later acquitted in the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl has told a court he played a “minor" role in the killing, the Pearl family lawyer said Wednesday.


A letter handwritten by Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh in 2019, in which he admits limited involvement in the killing of the Wall Street Journal reporter, was submitted to Pakistan's Supreme Court nearly two weeks ago. It wasn't until Wednesday that Sheikh's lawyers confirmed their client wrote it.

The stunning turn of events came as a Pakistani high court is hearing an appeal of a lower court’s acquittal of Sheikh, who was initially charged with murder in the beheading of Pearl. The appeal was filed by Pearl's family and the Pakistan government.

Nowhere in the three-page letter addressed to the Sindh High Court did the British-born Sheikh elaborate or say exactly what his allegedly “minor” role in Pearl's slaying involved.

The 38-year-old reporter from Encino, California was abducted Jan. 23, 2002. A gruesome video of his beheading was later sent to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, after which Pearl's body was found in a shallow grave in a southern neighborhood of the city.

Pearl family attorney Faisal Siddiqi called Sheikh's confirmation that he wrote the letter a “dramatic development” and demanded the conviction and the death sentence for Sheikh be reinstated.

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