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The son of a well-to-do Pakistani immigrant couple, Saeed grew up and went to school mostly in London. He excelled in his final exams (the only subject he found taxing was religion) and landed a place at the London School of Economics, where he studied statistics. But the middle-class trajectory of Saeed's life went off course after he volunteered for a Muslim charity in Bosnia and fell too ill to complete the trip. Within a year, Saeed dropped out of school and, after training at a camp in Afghanistan, joined the militant group Harkat ul-Ansar.
Saeed put his training to use in the 1994 kidnappings, after which he languished in an Indian prison for five years until militants hijacked an Indian Airlines plane and took it to Afghanistan. In exchange for 155 passengers, they won the release of Saeed, Azhar and one other terrorist jailed in India. Saeed slipped into Pakistan and kept a low profile but remained active in the militant underground.
For Pearl, the best hope seemed to lie in the fact that Saeed--if indeed he is the kidnapper--once took pity on the innocents he had duped into captivity. Echoing words uttered by a radical in a van seven years ago, Marianne Pearl in a televised interview offered herself to her husband's kidnappers. The question is, Did she trigger a memory?
--With reporting by Hannah Bloch/Islamabad, Helen Gibson/London and Douglas Waller/Washington