- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was beheaded by his Islamic extremist kidnappers in Pakistan, according to an investigator, and the State Department confirmed his death yesterday.
Agence France-Presse, citing an investigator it did not name, reported last night from Karachi that a video sent to the U.S. Consulate there shows the beheading of Mr. Pearl.
The three-minute videotape does not show the kidnappers' faces but focuses on the abducted 38-year-old reporter, who is speaking, the source said.
"The camera is focused on Pearl's face. Suddenly his head is chopped off," the investigator said, adding that a "blunt weapon" was used.
He said the videotape showed at least two people taking part in the slaying but said more could have been involved.
"Our embassy in Pakistan has confirmed today that they have received evidence that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is dead," the State Department said in a statement released yesterday afternoon.
"We have informed Mr. Pearl's family and expressed our sincere condolences.
"The murder of Mr. Pearl is an outrage, and we condemn it. Both the United States and Pakistan are committed to identifying all the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice."
In Beijing, President Bush early today decried the journalist's slaying, saying such crimes "only deepen the resolve of the United States" to fight terrorism.
The president, grim-faced, spoke from a lectern at his hotel in Beijing, on the last day of his six-day Asia tour.
"Laura and I and the American people are deeply saddened to learn about the loss of Daniel Pearl's life," Mr. Bush said. "We are really sad for his wife and his parents and his friends and colleagues who have been clinging to hopes for weeks that he would be found alive."
Mr. Pearl's wife, Mariane, is seven months pregnant with their first child.
In Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, President Pervez Musharraf pledged to track down the killers of the reporter and said a crackdown on Islamic extremists he announced last month would go forward.
A statement issued by the Pakistani president's office said he "has directed the government of [the southern province of] Sindh and other national security agencies to apprehend each and every member of the gang of terrorists involved in this gruesome murder."
Mr. Pearl was seized in Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.
FBI officials in Pakistan have seen a videotape that shows Mr. Pearl dead, sources said. But FBI officials in Washington refused to confirm that.
Mr. Pearl's parents released a statement last night saying they were "shocked and saddened at the confirmation that our worst fears have been realized."
"Up until a few hours ago, we were confident that Danny would return safely, for we believed no human being would be capable of harming such a gentle soul," they said.
The Wall Street Journal's publisher, Peter R. Kann, and its managing editor, Paul E. Steiger, said in a statement that they were "heartbroken" at the news.
"Danny was an outstanding colleague, a great reporter, and a dear friend of many at the Journal. His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in. …
"We will, in coming months, find ways, public and private, to celebrate the great work and good works Danny did. But today is a day to grieve."
Mr. Pearl, 38, was grabbed Jan. 23 in Karachi, the huge commercial capital of Pakistan, while on the way to a meeting with Islamic extremists.
He was preparing an article on Richard C. Reid, the so-called "shoe bomber" who tried to set off explosives hidden in his shoes on a flight from London to Miami in December.
Four days after Mr. Pearl vanished, an e-mail sent to Pakistani and international media showed photos of the reporter in captivity, bound and with a gun pointed at his head.
The e-mail demanded that the United States repatriate Pakistanis captured in Afghanistan who are being held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
A second e-mail sent Jan. 30 said the reporter would be killed in 24 hours. That was the last known message from his captors.
Mr. Pearl's wife made emotional appeals over the media to the captors, citing her pregancy and saying that her husband wanted only to tell the story of the Islamic groups to the world. But the kidnappers accused him of being a spy.
Mr. Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief for the Journal, was based in Bombay but had come to Pakistan to cover the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan and report on terrorist groups inside Pakistan.
Mr. Reid, a British convert to Islam in U.S. custody on terrorism charges, apparently had spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Pearl had "joined the noble ranks of journalists who have risked and sometimes given their lives in service to the public and to their profession."
He described the killing as "an act of base criminality fueled by mindless hatred that served no cause and wounds all of humanity."
The man who apparently masterminded Mr. Pearl's kidnapping, Omar Saeed, was captured by Pakistani police nearly two weeks ago.
Saeed, a British-born leader of militants fighting in Kashmir who spent five years in an Indian jail on terrorism charges, publicly admitted to the kidnapping in a court appearance last week.
At first he had told police that Mr. Pearl was alive, but last week he changed his story.
Police have also arrested Fahad Naseem, one of three suspects police believe sent e-mails announcing Mr. Pearl's abduction. Police said they found copies of the e-mails in his laptop computer.
Also arrested and accused of sending the e-mails were Sheik Mohammed Adeel, a constable with the police department's special branch, and Salman Saqib.
Both are thought to have links to an extremist group called Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf called the kidnapping of Mr. Pearl part of an expected "backlash" by Islamic extremists to his decision to return Pakistan toward centrist values and to reject extremism, a decision announced in a nationwide speech Jan. 12.
A Pakistani daily, the News, reported that Saeed told police Mr. Pearl's kidnapping was the first shot in an effort by Islamic groups to frustrate the government's crackdown.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide