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December 30, 2020 1:38 pm

US Justice Department ‘Stands Ready’ to Try Daniel Pearl’s Murderer Should Pakistani Efforts Fail

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (c) is surrounded by armed police as he leaves a court in Karachi, Pakistan, March 29, 2002. Photo: Reuters / Zahid Hussein.

The US Justice Department has said that it would be willing to try the terrorist convicted in Pakistan of the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in an American court.

The announcement followed last week’s decision by the High Court in the Sindh region of Pakistan to release four men accused of orchestrating the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Pearl, an American Jew and Wall Street Journal correspondent. The group included the main suspect who was earlier sentenced to death for masterminding the killing, British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.

In a statement on Tuesday, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen noted that Pakistani officials were trying to appeal decisions overturning Omar Sheikh’s murder conviction and ordering his release, but that his department will step in should those efforts fail.

“We understand that Pakistani authorities are taking steps to ensure that Omar Sheikh remains in custody while the Supreme Court appeal seeking to reinstate his conviction continues. The separate judicial rulings reversing his conviction and ordering his release are an affront to terrorism victims everywhere,” Rosen said.

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“We remain grateful for the Pakistani government’s actions to appeal such rulings to ensure that he and his co-defendants are held accountable,” Rosen continued. “If, however, those efforts do not succeed, the United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial here. We cannot allow him to evade justice for his role in Daniel Pearl’s abduction and murder.”

An attempt to bring Sheikh to the US would need the active cooperation of the Pakistani authorities.

In October 2020, however, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that Pakistan has “virtually no extradition treaty with the US” in the case of Talha Haroon, a US citizen of Pakistani origin accused of planning a bomb attack in New York in 2016, after US authorities requested his extradition.

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