January 25, 2011
Wrong people convicted in Daniel Pearl murder, new report asserts
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The image of the disheveled, hairy, white-T-shirt-clad KSM is familiar to most people as the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center.
Arriving at the compound where Pearl was being held captive, KSM took over the operation. Omar Sheikh, the mastermind of the kidnapping, and the three men in the ransom note cell were nowhere near when Pearl was kidnapped. Sheikh had left Karachi before Pearl was captured, so he would have an alibi. And the three men in the ransom note cell never even met Pearl.
The actual murder, the Georgetown report details, was carried out personally by KSM, who slit Pearl’s throat with a knife.
In an interview with The Jewish Journal, Nomani and Feinman Todd described the trail of clues they had uncovered — as well as cover-ups they allege were undertaken by both the Pakistani and American governments, basing their comments on the thousands of documents obtained by the project as well as information from former and current FBI, CIA and State Department officials and hundreds of phone calls to other sources.
One gruesome sidelight, they said, was that the man assigned to videotape the execution had trouble operating the equipment, so the scene had to be restaged for the camera.
KSM was captured in Pakistan in 2003, held at secret “black site” locations and at Guantanamo Bay since then, and has undergone numerous CIA and FBI interrogations, as well as some 183 waterboarding sessions.
At a 2007 military tribunal hearing, he boasted, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan,” Earlier, talking about Pearl, he had told FBI agents who interviewed him at Guantanamo, “Conveniently, he was Jewish.”
The Pearl Project report found that a more scientific piece of evidence was gained in comparing the knife-wielder’s hand, shown in the video, with KSM’s hand, through a vascular technology called vein matching
In the first examination, CIA experts found that the hands “seem identical,” while later on, one of two FBI investigators concluded “he couldn’t rule out” that KSM’s hand was the same as shown in the video.
Both the Pakistani and U.S. governments were quite aware that KSM was now the prime suspect in the killing, but both had reasons to keep the findings quiet.
The Pakistanis, having already convicted kidnapper Omar Sheikh and associates for the murder, were loath to admit error and reopen the case.
As early as fall 2003, the U.S. government was pretty certain that KSM was the actual killer. On Oct. 16, Condoleezza Rice, then President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, called Mariane Pearl, Daniel’s widow, to inform her of this view; parents Judea and Ruth Pearl got a similar call from then U.S. Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales.
The debate within the government whether to make this information public continued until 2006. Then, at a meeting of high-level Justice Department, CIA and Pentagon officials, the decision was made to keep KSM out of the Pearl murder case, based on two primary reasons.
The main consideration was that charging KSM would complicate the government’s case against him for masterminding the 9/11 attack.