Daniel Pearl
Daniel Pearl Reuters

A massive force of 97 terrorists, including three commanders, were arrested in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi just before launching an enormous mission to free the murderer of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, according to the Pakistani military on Friday.

The terrorists hailed from Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) according to Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, in remarks made to a press conference as reported by Reuters.

According to Bajwa, LeJ commanders Naeem Bokhari and Sabir Khan, as well as Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) deputy chief Farooq Bhatti, were among those arrested in the raids after taking part in several large attacks on Pakistani airbases, a major airport, and police facilities.

He revealed that a number of the terrorists, including Bokhari, were in advanced stages of planning an attempt to free the terrorist Khalid Omar Sheikh from Hyderabad Central Jail.

Sheikh, a British-born terrorist, abducted and beheaded Pearl in 2002.

Pearl, 38, was the South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002, while researching a story about Islamist terrorists.

A horrific video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later. In the video, Pearl confirmed to his captors that he was Jewish - his last words were the Shema Yisrael prayer, recited by Jews before death.

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