By: Zahid Hussein, Associated Press Writer
(AP) A Muslim cleric identified as a prime suspect in the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has been arrested, Pakistani officials said Wednesday.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to say when or where Sheik Mubarak Ali Gilani was arrested or whether he surrendered voluntarily. They said there was still no word on where Pearl was being held by his captors.
Pearl, the paper’s South Asian bureau chief, was trying to arrange an interview with Gilani, leader of a small Muslim fundamentalist group, when he disappeared in Karachi on Jan. 23.
Police raided his residences in Lahore and Rawalpindi but could not find him. His mother, sister, and about 10 other relatives were taken into custody, police said. That tactic is commonly used in Pakistan to prompt suspects to surrender.
E-mail messages from the previously unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claimed responsibility for the abduction. They included pictures of Pearl, 38, in chains with a pistol pointed at his head.
The message included a list of demands, including better treatment for Pakistanis held with other terrorist suspects by U.S. authorities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But Pakistani authorities said Pearl was most likely being held by a known radical Muslim faction linked to the al-Qaida terrorist organization.