KARACHI, Pakistan – Investigators hunting for kidnapped reporter Daniel Pearl caught another suspect and sought help from a jailed Islamic militant, police said Monday. But a legal glitch delayed the first court hearing for the only men facing charges in the case.
With Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf due in Washington on Tuesday, Pearl and the British-born Islamic militant suspected of masterminding his kidnapping still had not been found. The Wall Street Journal reporter was abducted Jan. 23.
Three men, accused by police of sending e-mails that announced Pearl's abduction with photos of him in captivity, had been due in court Monday on kidnapping charges. But proceedings were delayed after officials decided that an anti-terrorism judge, not a civil one, should hear the case.
Khawaja Naveed, a lawyer for one of the accused, said the hearing was expected Tuesday.
Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said another suspect was arrested in Islamabad, the capital, and was being questioned.
"We are hoping this arrest will move the case forward," he said.
Haider said efforts to enlist the help of Maulana Masood Azhar, the imprisoned leader of the Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, failed. Azhar was in custody before Pearl's abduction, but authorities hoped he might know how to contact Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, the suspected mastermind of the kidnapping.
"We asked him if he would call and he said, 'I have nothing to do with Sheikh Omar. I don't know where he is,'" Haider told reporters Sunday.
Azhar and Saeed were freed from an Indian prison in December 1999 in exchange for passengers aboard an Indian Airlines jet hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Azhar went on to found Jaish-e-Mohammed, or Army of Mohammed, which had ties to Afghanistan's former Taliban militia and Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.
Pakistan arrested Azhar in December, after a Dec. 13 suicide attack on India's Parliament that India blamed on Jaish-e-Mohammed and another group. Pakistan banned both groups and three others in January in an effort to curb religious violence and ease tensions with India.
Pearl, the Journal's South Asian bureau chief, was abducted on his way to a meeting in Karachi with Islamic extremists. He hoped they would provide information about e-mails exchanged by Pakistani militants and Briton Richard C. Reid, the so-called shoe bomber arrested on a Paris-to-Miami flight in December with explosives in his sneakers.
Four days later, an e-mail sent to Pakistani and international media showed photos of Pearl in captivity and demanded that the United States repatriate Pakistanis captured in Afghanistan who are being held at a U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
A second e-mail sent Jan. 30 said the 38-year-old reporter would be killed in 24 hours. That was the last known message from his captors.
Investigators traced the e-mails to Farhad Naseem, one of the men expected in court Tuesday, police said. Police say Naseem had the e-mails on his laptop computer.
The two others arrested were Sheikh Mohammed Adeel, a constable with the police department's special branch, and Salman Saqib. Both are thought to have links to Jaish-e-Mohammed and told investigators they met Saeed in Afghanistan, a police official said.