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Pakistan captures suspect in death of journalist Daniel Pearl, officials say

Pakistani officials have confirmed the arrest of a former militant leader who they say took part in the kidnapping and killing of Daniel Pearl in Karachi 11 years ago.

Editor's note: This story includes a correction.

ISLAMABAD -- A suspect has been captured in connection with the 2002 murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl, Pakistani officials said Tuesday.

A spokesman for Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations Directorate confirmed the arrest by a paramilitary unit known as the Sindh Rangers and said the suspect had been transferred to police custody. 

Qari Abdul Hayee, who is also known as Asadullah, had been sought in connection with terrorist activities dating back almost two decades, including his suspected involvement in Pearl's slaying. 

Saeed was apprehended in a "covert joint intelligence operation where street intelligence, signals intelligence, agents as well as his own associates spilling the beans led us to him," according to the Sindh Rangers' operational commander who led the raid.

Pearl, 38, was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal and was researching a story about Islamist militants when he was abducted and beheaded in January 2002.

Saeed is notorious for being the former religious leader of the Karachi chapter of the feared Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (The Army of Jhang), a hardline-Sunni militant group that has targeted Pakistan's Shiite minority and become an ally of the Pakistani Taliban.

A military profile of Saeed shared with NBC News shows the alleged depth of his almost two decades of participation in organized militancy. It accuses him of organizing prison breakouts, attempting to kidnap former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's family, planning a foiled suicide attack on a hotel in Karachi where American soldiers were lodge as well as Pearl's murder.

Saeed had also been the subject of a manhunt launched because of his suspected involvement in a recent bombing in the Shiite-majority Abbas Town district of Karachi that killed almost 50 residents and destroyed entire blocks of apartments. 

Pearl's parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl, said in a statement released Monday: "We are gratified with this latest arrest and hope that justice will be served in a timely manner on all of those who were involved in the abduction and murder of our son, Danny."

Related:

Full Pakistan coverage from NBC News

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