The suspect arrested by the Karachi Crimes Investigation Department is Abdur Rehman, also known as Sindhi, a member of Al-Qaeda and Harkat-e-Jihad-e-Islami.
He allegedly assisted Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, the convicted mastermind of Pearl’s abduction and murder, and he is alleged to have been in contact with Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Bin Laden as Al-Qaeda’s chief in 2011.
“We hail what seems to be a major advance in the fight against impunity for crimes against journalists in Pakistan and we hope that this arrest will be a significant new step towards justice,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“Daniel Pearl’s execution-style murder in 2002 is an example of the insanity of terrorist groups that turn foreign journalists into scapegoats for the policies of their governments. This insanity is today probably the gravest threat to freedom of information worldwide.”
The police said Rehman could be brought before a court in the next two days. He is also wanted by the FBI. The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, Pearl had gone to Pakistan to investigate Islamist networks when he was abducted and murdered in February 2002.
Journalists in Pakistan continue to be targeted by radical groups, Islamist organizations and the feared intelligence services, all of which are on RSF’s list of “Predators of Press Freedom.”
Thanks to a decline in murders of journalists in 2015, Pakistan has improved its position in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index and is now ranked 147th out of 180 countries.