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Pakistan Says It Foiled Plot to Free Militant Behind Daniel Pearl's Death
The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had foiled an attempt to free Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the British-born militant who was convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the 2002 killing of the American journalist Daniel Pearl.
Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, the military's chief spokesman, said militants had planned to break into a prison in Hyderabad, a city in Sindh Province in Pakistan's south, to free Mr. Sheikh and other prisoners being held there. General Bajwa spoke at a news conference in the port city of Karachi, about 100 miles southwest of Hyderabad.
Mr. Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was working on an article on militant Islamic groups in Pakistan with links to Al Qaeda when he was kidnapped, and subsequently beheaded, in Karachi. Mr. Sheikh was found to have masterminded the journalist's abduction.
General Bajwa said the prison break plan was 90 percent complete when intelligence agencies broke it up. He said the plotters had rented a house in Hyderabad and planned to breach the prison with the help of a jail constable, who has been arrested. At the news conference, General Bajwa presented a handmade map of the prison, which he said the plotters had drawn with the constable's help.
General Bajwa said the militants had planned to detonate two vehicles filled with explosives near two barracks housing prisoners. He said they planned to free about 100 prisoners, and to kill 35. He did not explain why some prisoners were to be killed.
Two men who General Bajwa said were involved in the plot — Farooq Musanna, deputy leader of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and Naeem Bokhari, deputy leader of the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi — were presented in handcuffs at the news briefing, along with a third man, Sabir Khan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi's deputy leader in Karachi. But the military spokesman did not specify when the men had been arrested or when the alleged plot was to have been carried out.
Pakistan has seen at least two mass jailbreaks in recent years.
[Source: By Salman Masood, The New York Times, Islamabad, Pak, 12Feb16]
Islamic paramilitary organizations
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