Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti were arrested Monday in Kashmor, a town some 300 miles northeast of Karachi, said Saghir Mugheri, an area police officer.
Mugheri said both men were alleged members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant organization linked to al-Qaida.
A senior detective among the team investigating Pearl’s case said Rehman was suspected of leading the gang that kidnapped Pearl in Karachi on Jan. 23, 2002.
Rehman, also known as Naim Bukhari, supervised the reporter’s detention in a shack where he was held for several days before he was killed, said the detective, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Mugheri said police seized the pair in a car traveling toward Baluchistan province and that weapons and explosives were found in the vehicle. He said they would be transferred to Karachi for further investigation.
However, Maqboolur Rehman, a human rights lawyer who is not related to Attaur Rehman, claimed the two suspects had been in custody since police seized them from Karachi’s Nazimabad neighborhood in 2003.
Rehman said the men’s families had heard nothing from or about them ever since and that they had filed complaints to the provincial High Court in Karachi.
Pearl, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, was kidnapped and murdered in early 2002 while reporting in Pakistan for the Wall Street Journal. His death shook not only journalists but Jews at large. There was wide speculation that he was killed because his captors suspected he was an Israeli agent.
This past winter, on the five-year anniversary of Pearl’s death, his mother and father appeared in this video for The Jewish Journal, with his father, Judea, repeating some of Daniel’s last words:
“My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”