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Context of 'November 2001-February 5, 2002: Saeed Sheikh Indicted for Role in 1994 Kidnapping; He Is Not Arrested in Pakistan'

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British intelligence asks India for legal assistance in catching Saeed Sheikh sometime during August 2001. Saeed has been openly living in Pakistan since 1999 and has even traveled to Britain at least twice during that time, despite having kidnapped Britons and Americans in 1993 and 1994. (Fielding 4/21/2002; Anson 8/2002) According to the Indian media, informants in Germany tell the internal security service there that Saeed helped fund hijacker Mohamed Atta. (Swami 10/13/2001) On September 23, it is revealed, without explanation, that the British have asked India for help in finding Saeed. (Fielding 9/23/2001) Saeed Sheikh’s role in training the hijackers and financing the 9/11 attacks soon becomes public knowledge, though some elements are disputed. (Bamber, Hastings, and Syal 9/30/2001; CNN 10/6/2001; Ressa 10/8/2001) The Gulf News claims that the US freezes the assets of Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed on October 12, 2001, because it has established links between Saeed Sheikh and 9/11. (Gulf News 10/11/2001) However, in October, an Indian magazine notes, “Curiously, there seems to have been little international pressure on Pakistan to hand [Saeed] over” (Swami 10/13/2001) , and the US does not formally ask Pakistan for help to find Saeed until January 2002.

US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin meets with the Pakistani oil minister. She is briefed on the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan, which appears to be revived “in view of recent geopolitical developments” —in other words, the 9/11 attacks. (Frontier Post 10/10/2001)

A US grand jury secretly indicts Saeed Sheikh for his role in the 1994 kidnapping of an American. The indictment is revealed in late February 2002. The US later claims it begins asking Pakistan for help in arresting and extraditing Saeed in late November. (Arnold 2/26/2002; Klaidman 3/13/2002) However, it is not until January 9, 2002, that Wendy Chamberlin, the US ambassador to Pakistan, officially asks the Pakistani government for assistance. (Yost 2/24/2002; Callaway and Garrett 2/24/2002; Mohan and Meyer 2/25/2002) Saeed is seen partying with Pakistani government officials well into January 2002. The Los Angeles Times later reports that Saeed “move[s] about Pakistan without apparent impediments from authorities” up until February 5, when he is identified as a suspect in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping. (Mohan and Gettleman 2/13/2002) The London Times reports: “It is inconceivable that the Pakistani authorities did not know where he was” before then. (Fielding 4/21/2002)

FBI Director Mueller visits India, and is told by Indian investigators that Saeed Sheikh sent ransom money to hijacker Mohamed Atta in the US. In the next few days, Saeed is publicly blamed for his role with gangster Aftab Ansari in financing Atta and organizing the Calcutta attack (see January 22, 2002). (Press Trust of India 1/22/2002; Watson 1/23/2002; Popham 1/24/2002; France-Presse 1/27/2002; Syal and Hastings 1/27/2002) Meanwhile, on January 23, Saeed helps kidnap reporter Daniel Pearl and is later arrested. Also on January 23, Ansari is placed under surveillance after flying to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On January 24, Mueller and US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin discuss Saeed at a previously scheduled meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Apparently Saeed’s role in Pearl’s kidnapping is not yet known. (Yost 2/24/2002) On Mueller’s way back to the US he flies to Dubai to pressure the government there to arrest Ansari and deport him to India. Ansari is arrested on February 5 and deported four days later. (Sharma 2/10/2002; Swami 2/16/2002; India Today 2/25/2002)

Attorney General Ashcroft announces a second US criminal indictment of Saeed Sheikh, this time for his role in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl. The amount of background information given about Saeed is very brief, with only scant reference to his involvement with Islamic militant groups after his release from prison in 1999. It only mentions is that he fought in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda in September and October 2001. The indictment and Ashcroft fail to mention Saeed’s financing of the 9/11 attacks, and no reporters ask Ashcroft about this either. (Ressa 3/14/2002; Miller 3/15/2002)


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