- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

American reporter Daniel Pearl died trying to tell the story of Pakistan's Islamic extremist movement. Now some extremists are using the convictions of Mr. Pearl's killers as a rallying cry to continue their violence. This, after the trial had changed locations and two judges had to be removed after prosecutors received death threats. It will take all the power Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf has to keep such militant extremism from threatening his position and his country's security. But the fact that the Pakistani judicial system did not allow threats to infringe on justice provides hope that Gen. Musharraf won't be alone in his efforts. He will certainly need all the help he can get.

"I will see whether [he] who wants to kill me will first kill me or get himself killed," threatened convicted killer Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death. "It is a decisive war between Islam and Kafir [infidels or non-Muslims] and everyone is individually proving on which side he is."

Sheikh Aslam, a brother of one of the accomplices, said "Pakistanis and Muslims should now rise up because the government has bent its knees to America." Pakistani security needed little further encouragement to be on high alert, after 27 persons, mostly Hindu workers, were killed in Kashmir over the weekend and another assailant threw a grenade at a bus full of Western tourists in the northwestern Frontier Province.

The trial of those accused in Pearl's kidnapping and murder has been considered a litmus test for Gen. Musharraf's commitment to fight extremism and assist the United States in its war against terror. Likewise, Islamic militants have viewed the outcome of the trial as the measuring stick for how far Gen. Musharraf has compromised their interests. The Islamic militants are talking loudly. We must hope they are not also carrying a big stick.

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