KARACHI, Pakistan, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A planned jailbreak to free the man convicted for his role in kidnapping and killing U.S. journalist David Pearl was foiled, the Pakistani military announced Friday.
Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was kidnapped in 2002 while working on a story about al-Qaida-linked groups in Pakistan and was later beheaded. Ahmed Omar Shiekh, who was also implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, was convicted for participating in Pearl's kidnapping and murder, and was sentenced to death.
Sheikh was the focus of a plot to free a number of prisoners from a jail in Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, a Pakistani military spokesman, explained a pro-al-Qaida militant group with the help of a jail official allegedly intended to detonate explosives in two vehicles near prisoners' barracks. The plan called for about 100 prisoners to be freed and 35 killed, although Bajwa did not explain why the group had a list of prisoners to kill.
The cooperating jail official and two of the plotters were arrested, Bajwa said, adding the jailbreak was "nearly executed," or ready to be undertaken.
The foiling of the plan was part of an intelligence operation begun in 2013 in which 12,000 suspects were arrested in over 7,000 raids, Bajwa said. On Friday, police arrested 97 alleged militants as part of the bust, and broke up three terror networks.