- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistan's president vowed yesterday to hunt down every one of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's abductors and murderers and to treat terrorism with "an iron hand." Police said Mr. Pearl's death means they no longer must be restrained in their hunt for the perpetrators.
"I can assure my countrymen that we will not leave any stone unturned to bring all these people involved in this murder to justice and set an example of them for other such people who may be thinking of such acts in the future," President Pervez Musharraf said in a nationally televised address.
Condolences and expressions of outrage poured out from Pakistan's president, Cabinet ministers, journalists and even some Islamic groups after a grisly videotape revealed Mr. Pearl's slaying at the hands of extremists nearly a month after his abduction in the southern port city of Karachi.
In a statement yesterday, Mr. Pearl's widow, Mariane, who is seven months pregnant, said her husband's killers could not defeat his spirit and that she would tell their still-unborn son that his father had worked to end terrorism.
Thanking "all of the people throughout the world who have given Danny and me support and encouragement," she said the struggle against terrorism was everyone's responsibility.
The, widow, also a journalist, called her husband's killing an "act of barbarism" but dismissed the idea of revenge as too easy.
"It is far more valuable in my opinion to address this problem of terrorism with enough honesty to question our own responsibility as nations and as individuals for the rise of terrorism," she said.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage spoke with her yesterday morning, department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
Mr. Armitage expressed the State Department's condolences and assured her of "the commitment to bring to justice the people who are responsible for this horrible action," Mr. Boucher said.
Four persons have been arrested and charged in the case, including a British-born Islamic militant who admitted in court this week that he was behind the kidnapping.
A huge manhunt is under way for four other suspects, Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider told reporters.
Once they are apprehended, Mr. Haider said, "the whole net will be broken."
"We know their names, and we know their identity," he added.
Yet Mr. Pearl's body has not been found, nor was there information on where or when he was killed. The remaining suspects have been able to elude the government's massive dragnet, which had included detention of their family members in an effort to flush them out.
Many Pakistanis believe the crime was staged because of Gen. Musharraf's decision last year to back the United States in the war in neighboring Afghanistan, reversing Pakistan's previous position of support for that country's Taliban regime.
The Pearl case has laid bare the pitfalls of Gen. Musharraf's goal stated in a landmark speech Jan. 12 to stamp out Islamic extremism after the September 11 terror attacks in the United States.
A videotape received by the U.S. Consulate in the southern port city of Karachi "contained scenes showing Mr. Pearl in captivity and scenes of his murder by the kidnappers," said Mukhtar Ahmad Sheik, an official in charge of police in Sindh province, which includes Karachi.
A Pakistani investigator told the Associated Press that kidnappers killed Mr. Pearl by cutting his throat, then decapitated him. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said the kidnappers made two videotapes, one longer than the next, that contained graphic images of Mr. Pearl's death and the moments afterward. Another source close to the investigation said a tape showed Mr. Pearl before he was killed saying into the video camera, "I am a Jew. My mother is a Jew."
On Thursday, one of the jailed suspects in the case, Fahad Naseem, said before a Karachi magistrate that reputed mastermind British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed told him two days before the kidnapping that he was going to seize someone who is "anti-Islam and a Jew."
With Mr. Pearl dead, authorities will feel free to go after the killers with all their might, said Jamil Yousuf, a Karachi businessman who heads a citizen-police liaison committee involved in the investigation.
"We were moving very cautiously earlier as the recovery of Daniel Pearl was our prime objective. Now with his death, our entire focus is on arresting the key suspects who are believed to have carried out the kidnapping," he said.
The 38-year-old Mr. Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi on Jan. 23 while researching links between Pakistani extremists and Richard C. Reid, the suspected "shoe bomber" arrested in December on a Paris-to-Miami flight he boarded with explosives in his sneakers.
Those already arrested in the case include Saeed and three men accused of sending e-mail messages to news organizations announcing Mr. Pearl's kidnapping.
The kidnappers sent an e-mail message Jan. 30 accusing Mr. Pearl of being a spy for the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad. The Wall Street Journal denied the accusation.
The video footage confirming Mr. Pearl's death was obtained by a Karachi-based Pakistani journalist who works for a New York newspaper, Mr. Haider, the interior minister, said. He did not elaborate except to say the tape was then made available to the U.S. consul general.
A source close to the investigation said that the person who obtained the tape was not a journalist but rather someone who was "posing as a journalist."
Mr. Musharraf telephoned President Bush, Mr. Haider said, and the two leaders "reiterated their strong resolve" to fight terrorism.
Mr. Haider said that Pakistani Law Minister Shahida Jamil visited Mr. Pearl's widow in Karachi yesterday.
Despite the Pakistani condemnation of Mr. Pearl's death, there are concerns about continuing strong links between Pakistani intelligence agencies and radical Islamic groups, a relationship forged over years of fighting common enemies in Afghanistan and the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
Saeed, who was taken into custody earlier this month, admitted his role in the kidnapping during a court appearance Feb. 14. Saeed told the judge he did not know Mr. Pearl's whereabouts but believed the journalist was dead.
Investigators believe that some of the kidnappers may have been involved in the December 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Indian authorities released Saeed and two other Islamic militants in exchange for the 155 passengers and crew. Saeed had been jailed in India in 1994 for kidnapping Western tourists.

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