How Pakistani Spy Officials Blocked Justice for Daniel Pearl

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ISI officials framed The Wall Street Journal reporter's murder case—and the FBI and DoJ prosecutor Chris Christie went along with it.
By Jeff Stein

Of all the open sores in the long, painful relationship between the United States and Pakistan, the dragged-out case of Daniel Pearl's murder hurts the worst.

Just over 20 years have passed since Pearl, an affable and gifted correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, went missing in Karachi. About a month after his disappearance on Jan. 23, 2001, his killers posted a grisly video of his beheading.

From start to finish, the people involved in Pearl's kidnapping and murder were members of militant groups long backed by Pakistan's all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI. Last month, in yet another outrage, Pakistan's Supreme Court freed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man responsible for luring Pearl to his death, from prison and sent him to a halfway house. The judges had connections to the ISI.

The act exemplified Pakistan's treacherous double game with the U.S. The Islamic nation claims to practice democratic norms, yet empowers its security agencies to collaborate with the world's most dangerous militant groups, from Al Qaeda to the Afghan Taliban to terrorist units carrying out bloody attacks in India.

"The overturning of the convictions of Daniel Pearl's killers reflects the tenuous nature of Pakistan's actions against terrorists," Hussain Haqqani, a prominent pro-Western Pakistani journalist who served as his nation's ambassador to the U.S from 2008 to 2011, told SpyTalk.

But the case has also been complicated by the FBI and Justice Department quietly accepting false and conflicting confessions in the U.S. case against Sheikh, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark on March 14, 2002. One former FBI agent who worked on the case in Pakistan tells SpyTalk that his bosses and then-federal prosecutor Chris Christie "didn't want to hear" information that undermined a murder charge against the Pakistani suspect. "There was no one else that they could stick with it," Ty Fairman told SpyTalk in an exclusive interview. "They wanted…
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