Monday, May 21, 2007

So much still unknown

Monday's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) reports on the mysterious death of Saud Memon, a Karachi cloth merchant who seems to have spent most of the last 4 years in custody of governments unknown, in connection with the suspicion that he was involved in the kidnapping or murder of the Journal's Daniel Pearl. In a scenario that has extraordinary rendition written all over it, Memon disappeared in South Africa while on a business trip in 2003, and circumstantial evidence puts him in Guantanamo Bay subsequently, though possibly in the detention of the FBI and not the Pentagon or CIA.

From there he was, allegedly, handed over to Pakistani authorities and became the subject of petitions to locate that country's "disappeared", the stubborn pursuit of these cases by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry being one of the factors in his falling out with General/President Musharraf.

To make him even more of a hot potato, his detention is in connection with a crime that already has two principals assumed guilty: Walthamstow boy Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was convicted and sentenced to death in a Pakistani military court for Pearl's kidnapping, and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a high value Guantanamo detainee who confessed to the crime. The former is also, again allegedly, a possible player in the 9/11 plot, for which the latter claimed all the credit in his confession.

Anyway, Memon's precise role in this web, if any, is not known, and his status is just an obscure clue in the murky world of the global war on terror. Unfortunately, that's about all we're likely to know, as he showed up near his home a few weeks ago, apparently dumped out of custody in seriously ill condition, and died in hospital on Friday. There are probably a few people in Washington and Islamabad who find that extremely convenient.

UPDATE 5 JUNE: Another bizarre twist in the Pearl case as Pakistan announces the "arrest" of two more suspects in the case, Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti, although their relatives claim that they actually have been in detention since 2003 and were just formally arrested now due to pressure from the disappearance cases mentioned above. Still no hint of a link between Memon and two new suspects, let alone with the dude convicted for doing it, or the other dude in Gitmo who says that he did it.

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