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UPI Exclusive: Pearl tracked al Qaida
United Press International ^ | September 30, 2002

Posted on 09/30/2002 5:18:35 PM PDT by HAL9000

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was investigating the man who allegedly planned the Sept. 11 airplane hijackings and attacks on New York and Washington when he was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, according to two former Central Intelligence Agency officials.

Bob Baer, a former case officer in the agency's Directorate of Operations, said he provided Pearl with unpublished information about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has since been accused by American officials of being one of the masterminds of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a top aide to Osama bin Laden. Mohammed is currently the operational chief of al Qaida, other U.S. intelligence officials said.

Next to bin Laden, Mohammed is one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

"I was working with Pearl," said Baer, who has written a book about his time as a CIA official and has acted as a consultant and source for numerous media outlets. "We had a joint project. Mohammed was the story he was working on, not Richard Reid."

But a spokesman for The Wall Street Journal disagreed with Baer's account. "Everything we know from before and after Danny's murder indicates his reporting effort was focused on Richard Reid. Also, we don't believe he was engaged in a 'joint project' with anyone outside The Journal."

Shortly after Pearl's kidnapping and subsequent murder in Karachi, Pakistan last winter, it was reported he was tracing the background of Reid, who was seized on a Boston-bound American Airlines jet from Paris allegedly trying to ignite explosive in his shoes. According to that account, Reid had gone to Karachi to contact a man called Sheik Mubarek Gilani to get information on Reid.

Baer said that instead Pearl was onto bigger and more dangerous game. "I urged him to go to Pakistan to look into Shaikh Mohammed."

Another former 30-year veteran of CIA confirmed Baer's account. He asked that his name not be used, but he endorsed Baer: "I'm surprised Baer is on the record, but he really knows his stuff on this."

Baer said that he believes it was Mohammed who had Pearl killed.

"I have heard from (intelligence) people who follow this closely that it was people close to Mohammad that killed him, if it wasn't Mohammed himself," he said.

Shortly after Pearl was kidnapped, Pakistani officials too said they doubted the story that the young reporter was looking into Richard Reid. A spokesman for Pakistan's military government, Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, told United Press International that Pakistani officials could not understand why Pearl was visiting Karachi to meet a religious leader who lived in Lahore.

Gilani, the person Pearl was reportedly trying to meet, heads Jamaat-ul-Fuqra or the Party of the Poor, and has thousands of followers around the world, including the United States.

Gilani and his followers are long believed to have been involved in terrorist acts and appear on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Gilani, however, lives in Lahore, which is closer to the Pakistani capital Islamabad where Pearl was before he flew to the southern port city of Karachi -- hundreds of miles south of Lahore.

Pakistani intelligence sources told UPI that Mohammed, the man Pearl was actually trying to track down, also had links to Gilani and his party.

On July 15, an anti-terrorism court in the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad convicted four men for kidnapping and murdering Pearl. The suspected ringleader, British-born Pakistani Ahmad Omar Saeed Shaikh, better known as Shaikh Omar, was sentenced to death while three others were sent to jail for life.

Throughout the trial, Omar maintained that -- although he knew how and by who Pearl had been killed -- he was not himself responsible.

Subsequently, there were reports that four other men had also been arrested by Pakistani police in connection with the murder. But Pakistani security officials told UPI that in order for the new suspects to be put on trial, the four convicted men would also have to be tried again, because evidence against the new suspects undermined the case against Omar and his accomplices.

Mohammed was seen in Islamabad's posh F-7 sector when Pakistani and U.S. officials arrested Ramzi Yusuf, the man who tried to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993.

The director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Josef Bodansky, told UPI emphatically, "Mohammed was Pearl's killer."

"An Algerian actually did the job, but Mohammed gave the order for the killing. There's no question about it," he said. Bodansky said Mohammed also has ties to Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency, which he said had acted to shield him in the past.

"Mohammed was running operations right in Karachi," said Bodansky. Bodansky would not reveal his sources of information.

According to Baer, he was first informed of Mohammed's role as a key aide to terrorist mastermind bin Laden as early as December 1997 when he met a former police chief from Doha, Qatar, at a dinner in Damascus.

In 1997, Baer had left the agency to become a consultant in Beirut. Terrorism was Baer's field and Baer began to meet the ex-Doha police chief from time to time. The ex-Doha police chief, who Baer declined to identify by name, told Baer that during the course of his work he found that there was a bin Laden cell in Qatar, being sheltered by the Qatari government.

The two main members of the cell were Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Shawqui Islambuli, the brother of the Egyptian who had killed Anwar Sadat. They also were linked to terrorist Ramzi Yousef, but what worried the former police chief was the fact that Mohammed and Islambuli were experts in hijacking commercial planes. The ex-police chief told Baer that Mohammed "is going to hijack some planes." The ex-police chief said his basis for this was evidence developed by police and Qatari intelligence.

The ex-police chief told Baer that Mohammed was being shielded by the Qatar government and told how, in 1996, the FBI sent in a team to arrest Mohammed and Islambuli. While pretending to help, elements in the Qatari government stalled U.S. agents and supplied the two suspects, Mohammed and Islambuli with passports in fake names and spirited them out of the country.

Mohammed went to the Czech Republic where he began to live under the alias "Mustaf Nasir."

Mohammed also traveled to Germany to meet bin Laden associates, Baer said.

Baer sent this information to a friend in the CIA Counter-terrorist Center who forwarded the information to his superiors. Baer heard nothing. "There was no interest," he said.

Baer said he was frustrated and called Pearl. Baer said he told Pearl he had a hot story on terrorism and the fact that a U.S. ally like Qatar was actually working against the United States when it came to bin Laden.

Baer said to his annoyance, Pearl did not begin to work on the story. Nothing was done until the day of the Sept. 11 attacks when Pearl called to talk to Baer. Baer said he gave Pearl all the old information he had and new information he had since obtained -- for example, that there are files on Mohammed in the Qatari Embassy in London.

Baer said he and Pearl then "began to work together" -- in other words, Pearl would get info and check it out with Baer and Baer would feed Pearl what he was getting. It was "a joint project," said Baer. Baer was giving direction, but Pearl's contacts were not confined to Baer.

After Pearl's murder, Baer said, he took his information about Mohammed to the Justice Department, but again, as with the agency, he never received a call nor did the department express any interest.

The case is currently being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey, Justice Department officials said.

Asked to comment on Baer's information, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna, told UPI, "I will pass this on to my agents, but this is nothing that I've heard of."

A joint congressional probe into Sept.11-related intelligence failures made a veiled reference to "a key al Qaida leader" whose "growing importance to al Qaida" the U.S. intelligence community had failed to recognize. U.S. intelligence, said the committee also did not "anticipate his involvement in the terrorist attack of Sept. 11." The leader in question is widely believed to be Mohammed.

Copyright © 2002 United Press International

TOPICS: Breaking News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1993; 1993wtcbombing; 1996; 199712; 20010911; ahmadshaikh; alfuqra; alqaeda; alqaida; anwariqbal; anwarsadat; baer; baerbookdeals; bobbaer; bodansky; bookdeals; damascus; danielpearl; gilani; historicrevisionism; iis; islambuli; jaf; jamaatalfuqra; jamaatulfuqra; jilani; johnkerrystaffers; josefbodansky; juf; karachi; kerrystaffers; lahore; lebanon; libmyths; moa; moviedeals; mubarekgilani; mustafnasir; nasir; nigerflap; omarshaikh; osamabinladen; pakistan; partyofthepoor; pearl; policechief; qatar; qatarcell; qataris; qureshi; ramziyousef; ramziyousuf; ramziyusuf; rashidqureshi; revisionism; richardreid; richardsale; robertbaer; rogueweasels; saeedshaikh; shaikhmohammed; shaikhomar; sheikgilani; sheikhomar; sheikmubarekgilani; shoebomber; syria; syriana; ulfuqra; vips; yousef; yousuf; yusuf
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To: Lion's Cub
I've seen the story about Baer, Qatar, and the two al Qaeda guys there before. I think it may be in Baer's book.
21 posted on 10/01/2002 4:51:11 AM PDT by aristeides
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To: aristeides
Thanks for the info.

I think this has the ring of truth, though I'm not ready to say that Gilani is innocent. I still think he was involved.

I just think the timing of this is a bit suspect. Why didn't it come out when the Pearl murder was in the news? At the very least, it should have come out when the trial was in the news. It just seems odd that it pretty much stayed under the radar until the dims decided to undermine the attack on Iraq.

The only plausible reason I can think of for keeping it buried until now would be the inference that Pearl was perhaps working with the CIA. The problem is that I don't think that would have made any real difference over there. He was already thoroughly hated just for being Jewish.

22 posted on 10/01/2002 5:36:27 AM PDT by Lion's Cub
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To: teresat
one of his former co-workers said something to the effect that Mr. Pearl did not agree with alot of american policies and government.

And how many red-blooded Americans TOTALLY agree with EVERYTHING our government does? I don't think our government should continue to issue visas to ME immigrants. Does that make me suspicous?

23 posted on 10/01/2002 7:15:14 AM PDT by fivecatsandadog
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To: Cinnamon Girl
"I was working with Pearl," said Baer, who has written a book ...

Will certainly help push that book! There are only suggestions of some kind of a contact here, and whether it amounted to collaboration is anybody's guess.

24 posted on 10/01/2002 11:26:02 AM PDT by mikeIII
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To: Cinnamon Girl
Interesting. Thanks for the ping.
25 posted on 10/01/2002 2:27:24 PM PDT by knighthawk
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To: Cinnamon Girl
And Omar's still alive......and being protected - oops - in jail.
26 posted on 10/01/2002 3:46:28 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: Cinnamon Girl
Ignore the uniformed general chuckling in the corner.

Musharraf had Pearl killed. Period. He was getting too close to the truth.
27 posted on 10/01/2002 3:49:27 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy
Most of Pakistan should be in jail.
28 posted on 10/01/2002 4:38:30 PM PDT by Cinnamon Girl
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To: Cinnamon Girl
Secretly, i think most of the Pakistani middle class and elites would be happy to end the experiment of Pakistan and just become Indian Muslims.
29 posted on 10/01/2002 4:42:55 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: katykelly

Read the article she was with him but decided not to go for the attempted interview. She could have been kidnapped also had she gone with him. Her quotes from this article are odd because she constantly talks about their "mission" and that they were "trained" for this. What guy takes his pregnant wife to such a dangerous area?

30 posted on 10/01/2002 5:50:50 PM PDT by teresat
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To: fivecatsandadog
see post the many "red blooded americans" would have taken their pregnant wife with them? Most americans have gripes about their government but this goes far beyond the norm.
31 posted on 10/01/2002 5:55:56 PM PDT by teresat
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To: ventana
See post the article. Does it strike you as odd?
32 posted on 10/01/2002 5:57:12 PM PDT by teresat
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To: teresat
You are not going to like this, but no. Most women today do not, in my experience, take their pregnancies as seriously as you or I would. They have a come hell or high water approach that says they are living life,pregnancy be damned, as they would have anyway. Many women, after having a child and seeing, perceiving, and uderstanding the sanctity and delicacy of life, become far more practical and sensitive regarding the life they bear. But we live in a death culture where women and pregnancy are not given their due, ironically by women themselves. What dupes. V's wife. (IMH0).
33 posted on 10/01/2002 6:52:20 PM PDT by ventana
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...
Note: this topic is from September 30, 2002. Thanks HAL9000.

34 posted on 03/20/2012 7:48:29 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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