Tags: Pakistani | Fanatics | Kill | U.S. | Reporter

Pakistani Fanatics Kill U.S. Reporter

Thursday, 21 February 2002 12:00 AM

Pearl, 38, was kidnapped Jan. 23 by Muslim terrorists in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.

"We now believe, based on reports from the U.S. State Department and police officials [in Karachi] that Danny Pearl was killed by his captors," WSJ Publisher Peter Kann said in a statement. "We are heartbroken at his death."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan had confirmed Pearl's death.

"Our embassy in Pakistan has confirmed today that they have received evidence that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is dead. We have informed Mr. Pearl's family and expressed our sincerest condolences," he said Thursday.

Pearl’s wife, Mariane, is seven months pregnant.

Boucher condemned the act. "We will continue to work closely with Pakistani authorities, who had made ever effort to locate and free Mr. Pearl."

Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, the man suspected of kidnapping Pearl, told an anti-terrorism court in Karachi last week that he believed the reporter was dead.

But until early Thursday the Journal continued to express hope that he was still alive.

Soon after Omar's claim, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told journalists in Washington he did not believe the alleged kidnapper.

"This character has been changing his positions since his arrest. I don't trust him ... I hope and pray that Pearl is alive," said Musharraf.

Announcing Pearl's death, the publisher described him as "an outstanding colleague, a great reporter, and a dear friend of mine."

"His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in. They claimed to be Pakistani nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all true Pakistani patriots," Kann said.

Commenting on reports that the FBI had a videotape showing Pearl being killed, an FBI spokesman told United Press International that "the information did not come from us. Wall Street Journal has put out a statement."

On Tuesday, Pakistani authorities announced that the hunt for the kidnapped journalist had reached a dead end, but they were still confident he was alive.

However, police officials involved in the investigation did not appear so certain. Their assurances that Pearl was alive sounded hollow after the chief suspect, better known as Shaikh Omar, announced at the Karachi court last Thursday that Pearl was dead.

Their uncertainty caused some diplomatic observers in Islamabad to say that the Pakistanis knew Pearl was dead but were afraid of saying so.

Omar told investigators that before turning himself in, he had called the people who were keeping Pearl and asked them to "give the parcel to granddad." This, he said, was a coded message meaning, "Give Pearl to the police." The kidnappers, he said, told him that "the parcel had expired," meaning "Pearl was dead."

Omar said he surrendered to police because they had arrested several of his relatives and were torturing them.

He denied the police's claim that they arrested him Feb. 13. He said he surrendered Feb. 5 but police waited to announce his arrest on the day Musharraf was scheduled to meet Bush.

Omar identified the leader of the gang holding Pearl as Mansur Hasnain. But police said this was a false name intended to mislead them. They said the man Omar claimed was Hasnain used five aliases including Amjad Hussain and Imtiaz Siddiqui. They said he had kidnapped Pearl on Omar's orders.

Also on Thursday, another suspect, Fahad Naseem, told a court in Karachi that he sent e-mails to U.S. and Pakistani media containing pictures of the kidnapped reporter, including the one that showed him handcuffed and with a gun to his head.

Pearl, 38, headed the Journal's South Asia bureau in Bombay, India. He was in Karachi to do a story about shoe bomber Richard Reid, a Briton held in the United States for trying to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes.

Investigations into Pearl's abduction reveal that he was trapped by a network of Islamic militants he met in Pakistan while probing Reid's connections with al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists, according to investigators.

Led by Omar, the militants apparently convinced Pearl that they knew the people who trained with Reid in Afghanistan. Aware of reports that Reid might have learned urban guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan, Pearl found the information tempting.

Whatever doubts he might have had, Pearl met Omar, 28, at a hotel in Islamabad's twin city of Rawalpindi. Omar, a British national, holds a degree from the London School of Economics. His crisp British accent and London connections might have helped convince the reporter that this was the man who could get him the information he wanted.

So when Omar told him about Mubarak Ali Shah, the leader of another group called Jamaat al Fuqra, or Party of the Poor, and offered to arrange an interview with him, Pearl agreed.

Although Shah lived in Lahore, Omar's men asked the reporter to go to Karachi, about 700 miles south of Lahore. Pearl was last seen outside a restaurant in downtown Karachi on Jan. 23 from where he was reportedly picked up by Omar's men.

Since then, Pearl's family and friends had been hoping that he was alive and that his kidnappers would soon release him.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Pearl, 38, was kidnapped Jan. 23 by Muslim terrorists in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi. We now believe, based on reports from the U.S. State Department and police officials [in Karachi] that Danny Pearl was killed by his captors, WSJ Publisher Peter Kann said...
Thursday, 21 February 2002 12:00 AM
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