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Acquitted Alleged Daniel Pearl Murderer Admits ‘Minor’ Role

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the kidnapping and murder by beheading of US journalist Daniel Pearl in February 2002, has admitted a “minor” role in the killing

Sheikh, who was convicted by a court in Pakistan for the murder and then acquitted last year, admitted in a hand-written letter in 2019 that “my role in this matter was a relatively minor one, which does not warrant the death sentence.”

The letter was submitted to Pakistan’s Supreme Court nearly two weeks ago, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday. The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal of Sheikh’s acquittal. Sheikh has denied ever meeting Pearl. His attorney said he wrote the letter under duress due to poor prison conditions. Sheikh in the letter identified the man he says was the murderer: Atta-ur-Rahman, alias Naeem Bokhari, a Pakistani man who has since been executed for involvement in an attack on a paramilitary base in southern Karachi.

Pearl, The Wall Street Journal’s South Asian bureau chief, had been investigating a story about the alleged financing of al-Qaida via Pakistan-based militants. Pearl disappeared in Karachi on Jan. 23, 2002, on the way to what he believed would be an interview, and was decapitated by his captors nine days later. Video of Pearl’s murder by beheading was sent to the U.S. consulate.