Pakistani Court’s Decision to Release Convicted Murderer of Daniel Pearl Meets With Fury Around World
A Pakistani court’s decision to commute the death sentence of an Islamist terrorist convicted of the 2002 murder of the American-Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl met with fury around the world on Thursday.
British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh — who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding Pearl’s savage execution — is expected to be released from custody this week. Sheikh, who had already served an 18-year jail term while appealing his death sentence, was freed by High Court of Sindh province after its two-man bench decided, according to Sheikh’s lawyer, that the murder charges were “unproven.”
Pearl was investigating Islamist militants in Karachi after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002.
Video emerged a few weeks later of his killing. Pearl was beheaded after delivering a short speech to the camera which ended with the words, “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”
Reacting to the Pakistani court’s decision, Reporters Without Borders — the leading international press freedom NGO — slammed the ruling as “a shocking symbol of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists.”
Daniel Bastard — head of the Asia-Pacific desk for Reporters Without Borders — said that while his organization opposed the death penalty, “we deeply regret this incoherent decision by the judges in Karachi.”
Their decision “recognizes Sheikh’s guilt while in effect overturning his conviction,” Bastard added. “This is a shocking denial of justice for Daniel Pearl’s family and will stand as a symbol of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Pakistan.”
Further condemnation came from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy — who wrote a book about Pearl — as well as Pearl’s colleagues in the world of journalism.
Chairman @RepEliotEngel: Deeply concerned by Pakistan court’s overturning of convictions for the abduction & killing of Daniel Pearl. It’s critical Pakistan demonstrate a real commitment to addressing its longstanding terrorism problem by holding those involved accountable. https://t.co/gLFRDXpduY
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) April 2, 2020
#OmarSheikh, the brains behind #DanielPearl beheading, liberated. Decision made by “judges" in the thug state: #Pakistan. Shame on them. My thoughts w/ his parents Ruth & Judea. His widow Mariane. His son Adam. Bad news for all anti-jihad resistants. @WSJ https://t.co/Ea5oexRbVz
— Bernard-Henri Lévy (@BHL) April 2, 2020
Just your regular reminder that Dr. Shakil Afridi who helped the U.S. find bin Laden remains in a Pakistani jail while Pakistan overturns the murder conviction of the man who murdered Daniel Pearl. https://t.co/MAfDDZqzyx
— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) April 2, 2020
1. Omar Saeed Sheikh planned the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, who was then murdered by al-Qaeda. Now his convictions were overturned.
One can only hope the U.S. is tracking this story (even with everything else going on) and making a determination on the proper response. https://t.co/5cRbotneTA
— Thomas Joscelyn (@thomasjoscelyn) April 2, 2020