Pearl 'found Pakistan terror secret'
PARIS, April 28 (AFP) - Daniel Pearl, the US reporter beheaded in Karachi last year, was killed because he had discovered dangerous secrets about Pakistani involvement in Islamic extremism, according to an investigation by French philosopher and media personality Bernard-Henri Levy.
"He was the man who knew too much. His work as a journalist took him down trails which he should probably never have followed.
"Basically he was killed to stop him writing an article," said Levy, author of "Who killed Daniel Pearl?" which has just been published in France.
Pearl, who was 38, was kidnapped in January 2002 while working on a story about Islamic militants for the Wall Street Journal. His remains were found in May after a gruesome video showing his murder was sent to a news agency in Karachi.
In a 525-page volume Levy retraces the reporter's last steps in freedom, and the trap set for him by Omar Sheikh, the British-born Islamic extremist - sentenced to death in Pakistan for the murder last year - who forms the book's counter-theme.
According to Levy, Sheikh was acting for the Pakistani intelligence services. "Pearl's assassin was not a fanatic but an agent - a double-agent - of the Pakistani secret services, and also of al-Qaeda," he told Le Figaro newspaper.
The reporter, who was lured into captivity by the promise of an interview with leading Islamic militant Mubarak Gilani, may have been about to expose how close al-Qaeda was to acquiring nuclear weapons from supporters inside the Pakistani scientific establishment, according to Levy.
Or he may have had information about how relatively unknown Pakistani individuals such as Gilani were in fact controlling al-Qaeda's apparent leader Osama bin Laden.
"My hypothesis is that bin Laden, this scarecrow of whom we are quite rightly afraid, is in some respects a puppet. He is there on stage but behind him are more secret, but more important, individuals who are his inspiration. That was what Pearl discovered. That was why he was killed," Levy said.
"Who killed Daniel Pearl?" is a highly personalised account by the 54 year-old French author, who has written extensively about the conflicts in Bosnia and Afghanistan and the emergence of radical Islam as a challenge to western liberalism.
His journey takes him to California to meet Pearl's family and to London - where Sheikh was educated at the respected London School of Economics - as well as to Pakistan, Bosnia and the Gulf.
"Radical Islam is as much to be feared today as the communist and fascist totalitarianisms of yesterday were," said Levy.
"Everything must be done to stop a frontal collision between the west and Islam in general. The only war of civilisations must be within Islam -- between the democrats and the fascists."