Column: Pearl’s murderers must be found

Ahmed Omar Saeed should be extradited to America. He’s one of the main suspects in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. He’s being held in Pakistan while authorities there continue to build cases against Saeed and two other suspects in the abduction and murder.

The United States should be the one to try Saeed (and any of his accomplices when they are found). The crime was committed against an American citizen with the intent of terrorizing the population of America. The kidnappers targeted Pearl because they knew he was American.

Beyond that, Saeed was indicted here in connection with a kidnapping of an American in India back in 1994. He was freed during a prisoners/hostage trade following a hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet in 1999.

The situation that got Saeed set free the first time is another good argument to get him to America as soon as possible. We (ostensibly) do not negotiate with terrorists. This country needs to send a message to extremists that we won’t be pushed around, that there are going to be consequences for crimes against Americans no matter where they are committed. Having Saeed extradited to America could deter future terrorist actions.

It’s important that American authorities interrogate Saeed and his accomplices. We need to find out if they are connected to any larger terrorist organization. Or if he knows about any actions being planned against American interests.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said he wants to rid his country of extremists. What better way to get rid of an extremist than to send him and his accomplices to another country?

I worry that the terrorists involved will try to use Pearl’s body as leverage against extradition or in exchange for a lesser punishment. It would be an insult to Pearl’s memory to have the suspects escape true justice because they managed to blackmail the system.

The Pakistani authorities in charge of the investigation have been praised, and rightly so. They quickly identified suspects and apprehended one. They know who else it is they are looking for. I am just not convinced that a Pakistani jury would be willing to convict the people who carried out the crime. Extremists enjoy an amount of popularity in Pakistan. The citizens were unquestionably upset when Pakistan’s government agreed to support America against the Taliban. I’m not saying it’s impossible to get a conviction, but the climate is something to think about.

There is an extradition treaty of sorts, one negotiated with England back in 1931. But, aside from that, we’ve had a decent relationship with the government in Pakistan in terms of extradition. Ramzi Yousef was handed over without a proceeding. We returned Mansur-ul-Haq, a naval official wanted for corruption. So there is a precedent.

It’s worth noting that Khawaja Naveed, who represents three men accused in the kidnapping, believes his clients would get a fair trial in America. We’re not likely to find a more ringing endorsement.

Daniel Pearl’s murder was absolutely senseless and was done to intimidate America. Because of that, the men who carried out the kidnapping and murder need to face the justice of the country they wronged.

  • Chris Ricketts is a sophomore majoring in English.