Pakistan Arrests Two Suspects in Daniel Pearl Case,00.html

Two Islamic militants linked to the kidnap and murder of the US reporter Daniel Pearl have been arrested in a remote town in southern Pakistan.

Atta ur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti were traveling by taxi through Kashmore, 300 miles north-east of Karachi, when they were caught, according to police.

Mr Rehman is accusing of helping lure Pearl to his death in January 2002. Kashmore police said both men were members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Sunni sectarian group with ties to al-Qaida.

But a human rights lawyer representing the men's families said they had been arrested in 2003 and secretly detained by Pakistan's security agencies since.

The militants are the latest of several characters to come to light recently in connection with the kidnapping of Pearl, a Wall Street Journal correspondent abducted while researching a story on Islamic militancy in January 2002. He was beheaded weeks later.

On May 3, Saud Memon, a Karachi trader on whose land Pearl's remains were found, was carried into the supreme court. Emaciated, suffering from tuberculosis and borne on a stretcher, his lawyer described him as a "skeleton of a man". He weighed just 18kg.

Mr Memon's lawyer said he had been arrested in South Africa in 2003, spent two years in Guantanamo Bay and the last year in the custody of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. He died two weeks later.

The case reinvigorated a popular national campaign for the release of the "disappeared" - terror suspects who have been imprisoned without trial by the security agencies for months or years.

Yesterday the lawyer for the families of the two arrested militants claimed they had been released as a result of the same outcry over the disappeared. "It is compelling the police and other law enforcement agencies to bring out the persons they are holding," Maqbool ur Rehman told the Associated Press.

But police investigators in Karachi insisted they had caught two dangerous fanatics. One detective said that Mr Rehman, also known as Naeem Bukhari and no relation to his lawyer, led Pearl into a trap and supervised his detention for several days before his execution.

Both men are also accused of several sectarian murders and an unsuccessful attempt to spring a fellow militant from a prison van in 1998 that left two wardens dead.

Pearl's story has just been made into a Hollywood movie starring Angelina Jolie, but five years after his death many key details remain unclear.

In July 2002 a Karachi court sentenced the British born militant Omar Sheikh to death for Pearl's murder. Three accomplices received life in prison and their cases are still under appeal.

But earlier this year the former Al Qaida number three Khalid Sheikh Muhammad told a US military tribunal that he had personally beheaded Pearl. Muhammad was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is currently imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.