Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen says that the US "...stands ready to take custody," of a Pakistani terrorist convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl, CBS News reported.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was released on Sunday on the order of a Pakistani court, sparking outrage from the US State Department, among other groups. Three of his accomplices were also released.
The Pakistani government is appealing the court's decision, and the terrorists are currently being held by the Sindh government under an emergency order.
"We remain grateful for the Pakistani government's actions to appeal such rulings to ensure that (Sheikh) and his co-defendants are held accountable," said Rosen, further describing the acquittal as "...an affront to terrorism victims everywhere."
"If, however, those efforts do not succeed, the United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial here," he continued.
Sheikh was responsible for murdering American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, beheading Pearl on camera and sending the video to the US consulate in Karachi. Pearl was the Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau chief.
Sheikh was originally sentenced to death by hanging for the crime. He has also been involved in the kidnapping of other foreigners.
Multiple Jewish groups have criticized the decision to acquit Sheikh, with B'nai Brith and the Anti-Defamation League each releasing statements on the matter. Many Jewish groups believe the kidnapping and murder to be motivated by antisemitism. In Pearl's beheading video, he can be heard stating his Jewish roots before being beheaded. His release was also criticized by a number of journalist advocacy organizations.
Court hearings on Sheikh's case will resume on Jan 5.