| Daniel Pearl
New Delhi, July 16: In a book now on the stands in Paris, author Bernard Henri-Levy investigates why American journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan. Levy comes up with startling deductions and exposes the links between the Inter Services Intelligence and al Qaida, and the help extended by Pakistani scientists towards assembling an “Islamic bomb” Osama bin Laden was desperate to procure.
Levy tries to figure out why Pearl was killed and believes it could be because he “knew too much” about al Qaida’s efforts to have an “Islamic bomb” and the people connected to passing nuclear know-how to Laden. Pearl could also have uncovered details about al Qaida-linked terrorist network in the US.
“I also offer the hypothesis of an article written on the double game of a Pakistani regime that was, on the one hand, a good ally of the US while, on the other hand, being involved in one of the most formidable nuclear proliferation operations through the most prestigious of its scientists,” Levy writes in Who Killed Daniel Pearl.
Quoting Yousef Bodonsky’s book, Levy says that in 1989, Laden paid $30 million in cash, plus the counter-value of two tonnes of heroin, to a group of Chechens who were supposed to deliver him material and other elements that would enable him to build one of several dirty bombs.
The author explores Laden’s efforts at getting hold of nuclear material and the links between Pakistan and Laden in nuclear technology transfers.
Pearl was kidnapped and assassinated by Islamic groups that were controlled by a fringe of the secret services — the most radical, most violent, most anti-American of factions fighting for control of the services. “But how could it be denied that this faction conducted itself, from start to finish, as if it were fully at home in Musharraf’s Pakistan'” Levy asks.
“This crime is not a news item, a killing for no reason, an uncontrollable act of fanatic fundamentalists — it is a crime of State, intentional and covert, whether you like it or not, committed by the Pakistani State... it is a ‘State killing’ whose paradox is that it calls into question a country that is a friend of the United States and the West, an ally in the fight to the death against the ‘Axis of Evil’ — in other words, a full time member of the Anti-Terrorist Coalition.”
Another thing which went against Pearl was he was posted in India. “I know that one of the things that went the most against Pearl was the fact that he had been posted in India, before Karachi. Worse even: I know that in the minds of the Islamists and, perhaps, the Pakistani secret services, in that bizarre logic in which the smallest sign takes on the guise of evidence or of a confession, even the simple fact that he ‘had an apartment in Bombay’ confirmed that he was an enemy of the country, the agent of a foreign power and, therefore, a man to be got rid of.”
In Pakistan after Pearl’s killing, Levy decides to follow the route Pearl had taken on the day he was kidnapped. Pearl had seen Omar Sheikh for the first time in Akbar Hotel, Rawalpindi. They met in Village Garden on the evening of the kidnapping. Sheikh is the British-born terrorist freed by India for the release of the 1999 Kandahar hijack hostages.
Levy discovered that Pearl had been in Pakistan since Christmas and that he was following in the footsteps of Richard Clovin Reid, who was arrested in a Paris-Miami flight with shoes carrying bombs.
Reid told Levy that Pearl was “over-intrusive” and too “nosey”, “that he was wrong to place his faith in that Omar Sheikh who bamboozled him while promising to take him to see Reid’s guru, Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, leader of the Jamaat-ul-Fuqrah, a terrorist sect, mentioned in the FBI’s list of terrorist organisations and who, on the said day, instead of taking him (Pearl) to Gilani, took him to a house in Karachi’s suburbs where — eight days later, on 31 January — he was executed”.