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January 30, 2002
1520 IST

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WSJ scribe drawn into a well-laid trap: Report

American reporter Daniel Pearl, who has been missing from Pakistan since last Wednesday, was allegedly trapped by abductors who had been in contact with him for more than two weeks, officials and reports in the United States said.

Pearl, who worked for the Wall Street Journal, apparently believed that a Pakistani cleric, Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, had links with terrorist outfits, including the Al Qaeda, the officials said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has entered the investigation to examine Gilani's involvement with American Muslim groups accused of assassinations.

Pearl was suspicious that Gilani had ties with Richard C Reid, the shoe-bomb suspect who studied Islam in Pakistan, and this could be the reason that he was inquiring about the cleric, the officials added.

A 1995 state department report -- Patterns of Global Terrorism -- had labelled the same cleric and his organisation, Jamaat ul-Fuqra, as "terrorist", a report said.

The Jamaat ul-Fuqra, it added, was established by Sheik Mubarik Ali Gilani of Pakistan in the early 1980's, but had many cells in North America, where its followers lived in rural compounds.

The group had identified those it saw as enemies of Islam, mainly Hindus and Muslims whom it considered heretics, the report said, adding that in the 1980's it engaged in "assassinations and firebombings across the US".

PTI
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