British-born Qari Abdul Hayee, former leader of the terrorist group linked to the slaying of Encino journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, has been captured, Pakistani news agencies reported Monday.
Hayee, also known as Asadullah, was seized Sunday by Pakistani army Rangers during a raid in the capital of Karachi, Pakistan Today and the Express Tribune reported. Karachi is Pakistan's biggest city and a sprawling metropolis home to an estimated 18 million people.
Government and military spokesmen were quoted as saying Hayee was connected to the abduction and beheading of Pearl in January 2002. Pearl, 38, was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal and was researching a story about Islamist militants.
Pearl was kidnapped while on his way to interview a Pakistani militant and was later beheaded in a gruesome video eventually posted online.
The Hindustan Times and Express Tribune both quoted military spokesmen as saying Hayee was being interrogated.
Pakistani officials said they do not believe Hayee, who used to be the chief of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, carried out the murder. But they said he was "privy to the whole situation."
He was "in the picture" of Pearl's murder, a Rangers spokesman told Sky News, without elaborating.
In 2007, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed reportedly confessed to having killed Pearl, but it's unclear whether he personally carried out the beheading. Mohammed, who is the self-described 9/11 mastermind, in custody at Guantanamo Bay, has never been charged with the crime.
Pearl, was a graduate of Birmingham High School, where a magnet school now bears his name, according to LAobserved.com. The Los Angeles Press Club bestows the annual Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity. The Daniel Pearl Foundation is based in Encino and among other activities presents the annual Daniel Pearl Lecture at UCLA.