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Widow of Daniel Pearl Drops Suit Against Al Qaeda

The widow of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl has withdrawn a lawsuit seeking damages against Al Qaeda, a dozen reputed terrorists and Pakistan's largest bank.

In a letter Tuesday to the federal judge presiding over the case, lawyers for Mariane Pearl noted that Habib Bank Limited and the other defendants in the case had not answered the lawsuit filed in July, but they otherwise did not explain their reason for dropping the action.

The lawsuit had sought unspecified damages against people and organizations that Mariane Pearl alleged were involved in the kidnapping, torture and murder of her husband in 2002.

Pearl, 38, The Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau chief, was abducted from Karachi, Pakistan, while researching a story on Islamic militancy in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Pearl's execution and beheading were videotaped by his kidnappers and displayed on the Internet. His remains were found in a shallow grave on Karachi's outskirts.

Among the defendants in Mariane Pearl's lawsuit were Al Qaeda; the al-Rashid Trust, an outlawed Islamic charity; and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the imprisoned Al Qaeda No. 3 leader and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The suit alleged Habib Bank knowingly provided financial services for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Several men charged in the kidnapping and murder case have been convicted in Pakistan, including British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh.

He was sentenced to death in 2002, and three of his accomplices were given life prison terms. Their appeals are pending.

Mohammed, caught in Pakistan, is being held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He claimed he personally beheaded Pearl, according to a partial Pentagon transcript of his testimony at a military tribunal.

Mariane Pearl was represented by Motley Rice, a law firm based in Mount Pleasant, S.C. The firm has brought other suits against Middle Eastern banks and companies on behalf of Sept. 11 victims.

Messages left with the firm were not immediately returned Wednesday.