Skip to comments.Profile of WSJ Kidnapping Suspect "Saeed went to Bosnia"
Posted on 02/07/2002 5:52:04 AM PST by Spar
Profile of WSJ Kidnapping Suspect
Wed Feb 6, 5:42 PM ET
This is an undated photo of Sheik Omar Saeed, who is being hunted by police in Pakistan in connection with the kidnapping of US reporter Daniel Pearl, it was reported Wednesday Feb. 6, 2002, in The Times newspaper, London. Saeed, 27, a London-born former British public schoolboy was named by officials at the US State Department as a key figure in the kidnapping, according to the newspaper report. (AP Photo/PA)
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) - The leading suspect in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is a 27-year-old Briton, educated in the country's expensive private schools and described by his one-time tutor as "a nice bloke."
But Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, also known as Sheik Omar Saeed, went on from his placid upbringing to a shadowy life of jail and reputed connections to Islamic militant groups.
Saeed was arrested in India in 1994 in connection with the kidnapping of three British backpackers in Kashmir to demand the release of Islamic militants fighting to end Indian rule in the contested Himalayan region.
Saeed was shot and wounded by police and the hostages were freed unharmed.
He spent the next five years in jail although never brought to trial and was freed after gunmen hijacked an Indian Airlines jet to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and demanded the release of Saeed and other figures.
Saeed, a first-generation Briton, is the son of a Pakistani-born clothing merchant who lives in a London suburb and attended expensive private schools where classmates and teachers regarded him as a devoted student.
He has been described by fellow classmates and teachers as a powerfully built young man, a disciplined student and a person with a sense of humor that allowed him to laugh at himself.
On summer break from university at age 20, Saeed went to Bosnia to work with a charity. British press reports say he is believed to have developed ties there to militant Islamic groups that recruited him to fight for the secession of the Indian-ruled portion of Kashmir, the only predominantly Muslim part of India.
Saeed is believed to have links to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a radical group banned last month by Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf. The group's founder, Maulana Masood Azhar, was freed as a result of the same hijacking that got Saeed out of Indian jail.
After his arrest in 1994 his parents said he was being tortured in India and protested his innocence. They told their local newspaper, the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian, that their son was being wrongly portrayed by India.
George Paynter, who was Saeed's economics tutor at Forest School in Snaresbrook, East London, said on Wednesday: "I'm horrified. The chap we knew was a good all round, solid and very supportive pupil.
"It is very difficult for us to understand because it isn't the Omar we knew," Paynter said. "He was a nice bloke and very respectful."
Although a devoted student who regularly received high grades, he scored only a "D" in Religious Studies at the school.
We need to close the borders and question all men of Middle Eastern decent right away. What will it take to get this done? A nuclear attack on an American city?
I, and all other American should, expect it here first and foremost.
There is a report on one of those Bosnian Islamic terrorist camps today from Tanjug. These "young Bosnians" will, many of them, be radicalized for the rest of their lives. Decades more terrorism to come.:
ITALIAN TV STATION SAYS ISLAMIST EXTREMISTS TRAIN IN JABLANICA
BERLIN - The Italian intelligence has discovered an Islamist extremists' training camp in Jablanica, 80 km southwest of Sarajevo, Italy's RAI-3 television has reported.
According to the exclusive RAI-3 report, carried by the German radio station Deutsche Welle, young Bosnians are tested at the camp to determine their ability to take part in Jihad.
And yet it's interesting that the US government has known for years that the Bosnian Muslims were issuing Bosnian passports to any terrorist who needed one. There's no reason to believe the practice has stopped at all.
Former President of Bosnia Alija Izetbegovic talks to TIME about about allegations of terrorist links in the Balkans
BY ANDREW PURVIS/SARAJEVO
October 31, 2001
Reports have long circulated - actively fuelled by Izetbegovic's former enemies in Belgrade and the Serb Republic of Bosnia - that he met with bin Laden and openly courted potential terrorists during the war. TIME met with him last week and asked him about those allegations. Excerpts:
TIME: According to several reports, you met with Osama bin Laden or his chief deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri during the war. Is that true?
Izetbegovic: During and after the war I met with thousands of people coming from the Islamic world but I can remember the faces and names of only a few. Neither of the two you mentioned are among them. And if, by some chance, I have met them, then they could not have talked with me about terrorism.
TIME: Do you believe there is an al-Qaeda cell in Bosnia?
Izetbegovic: There are suspicions but no proof. Personally I do not believe that al-Qaeda has cells in Bosnia.
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