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A Pakistani court ordered on Thursday (12/24/2020) the release of the British-Pakistani extremist convicted of the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, kidnapped and beheaded in Karachi in 2002. “It is a very disappointing ruling,” the attorney general told Reuters from Salman Tablibuddin province, who added that the Sindh provincial government has yet to decide whether to challenge the decision.

This decision by the High Court of Sindh Province comes several months after the same court overturned Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh’s death sentence and acquitted three other previously convicted men. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to challenge the acquittals had delayed the release.

Now the court has concluded that “there is no valid reason to deprive them of their freedom,” according to Mahmood Sheikh, who represents Sheikh and his co-defendants. “The release can take place today or in the next 24 hours,” he added. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a jihadist who studied at the prestigious London School of Economics, was already known for kidnapping foreigners when he was arrested and later sentenced to death for the murder of Daniel Pearl.

The 38-year-old journalist, a correspondent for the American daily The Wall Street Journal, disappeared on January 23, 2002 in Karachi. The video showing his beheading was sent a month later to the United States consulate in this city.

An independent investigation carried out over three years within the framework of the “Pearl Project” had determined in 2011 that the Pakistani justice had been wrong, since the four convicted of the journalist’s murder were not even present during his execution.

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According to Asra Nomani, a former colleague and friend of Daniel Pearl who led this investigation, the perpetrator was Pakistani Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. 

Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, arrested in Pakistan in 2003, is being held in the US prison at Guantanamo. A psychologist who questioned him stated that the detainee had confessed to him that he had beheaded the journalist.

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