What death row?
Omar Saeed Sheikh, a hijacker of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 and killer of Daniel Pearl, is officially on the death row in Pakistan. This is the man who epitomises the links between Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s military establishment, the 9/11 hijackers, British jihadis and Kashmiri terrorists. Putting him on the death row, and holding him in an ‘isolation’ cell helps Musharraf keep a key witness out of American, British and Indian hands. But that ‘isolation’ seems to be one-sided, as Omar Saeed has been rather effective in turning his prison guards.
Accoring to prison officals, Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh is dangerous and charismatic. The British-born Islamist murderer of the American journalist Daniel Pearl has managed to convert the first four constables that were stationed outside his cell. This has moved prison authorities to rotate the guards staioned outside his cell almost every day. â€œHe is capable of converting the entire jail staff,â€ said one official.
Sheikh rejected the â€œpillars of Western civilisationâ€, pledged allegiance to the one-eyed fugitive Taliban leader Mulla Omar and declared that jihad would never cease, even if Bin Laden and Omar were killed. â€œIslamic resurgence will continue even if all the better-known leaders are martyred or captured,â€ he said. His uncompromising pronouncements came as Mr Pearlâ€™s parents, Judea and Ruth, noted with â€œsadness and disappointmentâ€ the failure of Pakistan to carry out Sheikhâ€™s death sentence, imposed three years ago after he was tried for their sonâ€™s kidnap, and suggested that he could be implicated in planning bombings in London and elsewhere.
â€œUsing the protection of his jail cell, [Sheikh] reportedly keeps in touch with his friends and followers in Pakistan and Britain, and advises them on future courses of action,â€ they wrote in the Journal. [DT]
Perhaps Mr Blair should ask the good general which of the following is causing him to protect this terrorist: human rights, liberty or freedom of speech?