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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 00:05 GMT
Pearl kidnap suspect admits role
Fahad Naseem wrapped in a shawl outside the court
Mr Naseem (wrapped in shawl) said he acted on orders
A man suspected of involvement in the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, has admitted in a Pakistani court he sent e-mails with pictures of the journalist in detention, his lawyer said.

Fahad Naseem was quoted as saying he sent the messages on the orders of a British-born Islamic militant, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh - also known as Sheikh Omar - who has been arrested as the key suspect in the case.

Daniel Pearl
One of the photos the accused confessed to sending
E-mails with photographs of Mr Pearl - one showing him handcuffed and with a gun to his head - have been sent to various US news organisations along with demands for improved treatment for al-Qaeda detainees being held by the Americans.

But Mr Naseem reportedly said he had no idea where Mr Pearl had been taken.

Mr Pearl went missing on 23 January from Karachi, where he was researching a story on Islamic militants.

On Thursday, the US State Department reported that he had been killed.

'Anti-Islam Jew'

Mr Naseem is one of three men in custody accused of sending e-mails showing photographs of Mr Pearl in captivity.

Mr Naseem was brought to a judicial magistrate's court in Karachi on Thursday to record his statement.

The lawyer for Mr Naseem, Khwaja Naveed, said the accused told the court that he was introduced to a person identified as Sheikh Omar two days before the kidnapping.

Mr Naseem reportedly said that Sheikh Omar told him that an anti-Islam Jew was to be kidnapped and they were required to send his pictures by e-mail.

Sheikh Omar wearing a garland seen in a photo dated 16 November 2000
Sheikh Omar changed his statements frequently

According to his lawyer, Mr Naseem told the judge that on 21 January - two days before Daniel Pearl disappeared - he was taken to a house he had never visited before by his cousin Salman Saqib, a co-defendant in the case.

Sheikh Omar allegedly ordered them to buy him a Polaroid camera and scanner, and a few days later they were given the pictures of Mr Pearl to send.

Mr Naseem said he had never actually met the US journalist, his lawyer said.

He has now been jailed, pending trial.

Steven Goldstein, vice president of Dow Jones and Co - the owners of the Wall Street Journal - reiterated on Thursday that Mr Pearl was "far from being anti-Islam". He added: "Danny has conveyed news from the Islamic world with empathy and accuracy".

The last known message of his apparent captors was sent on 30 January, saying the 38-year-old reporter would be killed in 24 hours.

Sheikh Omar's confession

Sheikh Omar, a 27-year-old former English public school boy, appeared in court last week, where he said that he kidnapped Mr Pearl and that he believes the journalist is now dead.

But officials said the suspect had frequently changed his statements, making it difficult to accept his assertion that Mr Pearl was dead.

And on Wednesday chief prosecutor Raja Qureshi said his confession had no "legal sanctity".

Over the weekend, police carried out raids in Punjab province to search for another key suspect, who goes by the names of Imtiaz Siddiqui and Amjad Hussain.

Believed to be an accomplice of Sheikh Omar, he is suspected of actually carrying out Daniel Pearl's kidnapping.

See also:

08 Feb 02 | South Asia
Three charged in Pearl kidnap case
06 Feb 02 | South Asia
Suspect named in reporter's kidnap
14 Feb 02 | South Asia
Pakistan disputes reporter death claim
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