ISLAMABAD — Pakistani officials arrested a senior militant accused of involvement in the 2002 murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.
The militant, Qari Abdul Hayee, a leader of the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was arrested by the paramilitary Rangers force Sunday in Karachi, the city where Pearl was held hostage and killed.
“We were after him for the past three weeks. We had information he was in Karachi,’’ said a senior Rangers official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hayee was arrested on University Road, which runs through several residential neighborhoods and educational institutes.
The Rangers official said that the militant had been handed over to the city police’s Crime Investigation Department on Sunday evening. But police sources in Karachi, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, denied that Hayee was in their custody.
Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was 38 at the time of his death.
Pakistani officials have said that Hayee and other figures in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were at least partly involved in Pearl’s abduction, although not his death.
Hayee’s suspected role has been described as acting as a “facilitator” who had close ties with other men involved.
Hayee, who also goes by the name of Asadullah, was identified as a weapons and explosives expert for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The group is Pakistan’s most notorious sectarian militant outfit and returned to prominence this year after it claimed responsibility for two bombings in Quetta that killed about 200 Shi’ites, mostly from the ethnic Hazara minority.
Hayee was one of several militant figures still being sought in Pearl’s death. The two central figures in that crime are in prison: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the Qaeda operational mastermind who designed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and who wielded the knife against Pearl; and Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamic militant who lured Pearl to an interview and then kidnapped him.