On April 2, 2020, a Pakistani court overturned the murder conviction of Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national with a history of extremism for the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
According to the Wall Street Journal for whom Pearl worked, “the Karachi court, which heard Mr. Sheikh’s appeal last month, overturned convictions for murder and terrorism, the 40-page ruling said Thursday. The third conviction, kidnapping for ransom, was downgraded to simple kidnapping, and Mr. Sheikh’s sentence was reduced to seven years.” In response to the ruling, Dow Jones which owns the Journal stated “we continue to seek justice for the murder of Daniel Pearl.” Reporters Without Borders, an international watchdog group for journalists, called the decision “incoherent” and a “shocking denial of justice.”
Beyond the news services, a senior official at the U.S. State Department said “The overturning of the convictions for Daniel Pearl’s murder is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere. Those responsible for Daniel’s heinous kidnapping and murder must face the full measure of justice.”
The reaction from the British news service the BBC was seemingly the complete opposite.
The media service wrote that Sheikh’s “arrest and conviction in 2002 came in quick succession, at a time when Pakistan was under severe pressure from the United States to eliminate terror networks operating on its soil,” making the entire arrest of Sheikh seem like a sham witch hunt.
Rather than quote Dow Jones or Reporters Without Borders, the BBC wrote that “a group of US journalists, including former colleagues of Pearl, said in 2011 that they believed Sheikh had not carried out the beheading,” adding fuel to the reader that the conviction of Sheikh was never credible as even reporters and friends of Pearl believed Sheikh to be innocent.
BBC would not mention the reaction from the U.S. State Department, nor the reaction from Pearl’s father who had called it a “mockery of justice.”
In providing background to the case, BBC ran a header “Longstanding questions over Sheikh’s conviction.” The article continued that “The main argument of the defence lawyers was that the prosecution had failed to prove their case beyond doubt. They may have a point. There have been questions over whether the four [Sheikh and three accomplices] had any direct role in Daniel Pearl’s murder, though there was some evidence to show Sheikh’s involvement in his kidnapping.” Complete editorializing in the middle of a news article does not seem an issue for the BBC editors.
The icing on BBC’s celebratory cake was the concluding paragraph:
“But the Pakistani judiciary has sat on his appeal for nearly two decades, and some observers believe the present ruling has come at a time when the mood in the US and the rest of the world has changed and nobody seems to be worried about the terrorists of the past.“
Congratulations BBC. Your patriot who conspired with colleagues to kidnap and behead a 38-year old journalist and then cut up his body into pieces will soon be set free. He left behind a pregnant wife and the lingering final words “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am a Jew.” But for the BBC, the true victim in the story is a British Muslim who unjustly lost 18 years of his life due to American-Zionist pressure.
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