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Pakistan and the United States slug it out over Omar Sheikh acquittal

The letter by US Congressman Brad Sherman to Pakistani ambassador Asad Majeed Khan (Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/CongressmanBradSherman)

Pakistan is scrambling to manage the fallout from its Supreme Court's ruling to free the Pakistani origin, British national, accused in the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl and then shift him to a government rest house. But reacting to this move, 36 members of the US Congress have shot a letter to the Pakistani envoy in Washington, Asad Majeed Khan. They have urged Islamabad to review the acquittal.

"Nevertheless, in pursuit of justice for Pearl and the countless others who have been murdered by acts of terrorism, it is incumbent upon us to urge you to do your utmost to ensure that the Government of Pakistan conducts a full review of the acquittal in the case of Daniel Pearl," the letter said.

Omar Sheikh is an unrepentant jihadist terrorist who lured Wall Street Journal scribe Daniel Pearl on the pretext of an interview and handed him over to Al Qaeda associates. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of 9/11, bragged about beheading the reporter during a hearing before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay.

Omar Sheikh played the key role in the terrorist kidnapping and brutal murder. Sheikh was previously arrested by India after the 1994 kidnappings but was among terror suspects freed by India on Dec. 31, 1999 in exchange for the hostages on an Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814 that was hijacked and taken from Nepal to the then Taliban-controlled Afghan city of Kandahar.

Pearl was killed as part of al Qaeda’s plan to spread terror in the aftermath of 9/11. An American indictment followed, but Pakistan’s government promised to prosecute Sheikh rather than extradite him.

Soon after his conviction in 2013, Omar Sheikh said he did not expect to be executed. “It is a decisive war between Islam and Kafirs,” he declared, using an Arabic word for infidels. “And everyone is individually proving on which side he is.” In this Sheikh asserted his faith that the powers that be in Pakistan would eventually side with him, a true believer, rather than with unbelievers. And the decision by the supreme Court vindicates his “confidence”.

Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, has been struggling to meet requirements set by the U.N.’s Financial Action Task Force for dealing with terrorism financing. Pakistan has been known for its perennial support of the Al Qaeda, Taliban and other terrorist organisations.