February 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Daniel Pearl killed brutally
Islamabad, February 22
Stunned Pakistani officials made the announcement in Karachi, where the Mumbai-based Wall Street Journal reporter went missing January 23, prompting a furious U.S. President George W. Bush to vow to step up his war on terrorism.
But there was no trace still of Pearl’s body, whose wife Marianne Pearl, a French citizen who is pregnant with their first baby, remained in seclusion in Karachi where she had been waiting for news about her husband.
The police quickly surrounded the house, while the news of the 38-year-old Pearl’s killing was relayed to his parents and to a shocked Wall Street Journal in the USA.
Pearl, who had lived in Mumbai for seven years and was a good violinist, was working on a story on Richard Reid, a Briton arrested on a Paris-to-Miami flight in December when he tried to ignite explosives hidden in his sneakers. He disappeared while going for a meeting in Karachi.
An unknown group that claimed responsibility for the abduction demanded the release of Pakistanis captured in Afghanistan and being held in Cuba, and dubbed Pearl a CIA agent.
A Pakistani official told IANS that the abductors, whose identity remains a mystery, sent a videotape showing how he was murdered to Pakistani authorities at 11 p.m. on Thursday.
“We received the video in Karachi,” a spokesman for the Interior Minister said. “The video contains scenes showing Daniel Pearl in captivity and scenes of his murder by the kidnappers. The tape appears to be genuine.
“The police is trying its best to recover the body and we hope that they will succeed,” the spokesman added.
It was not clear who received the tape, and there was no indication when, or where, Pearl had been held in captivity or was murdered.
Peter R. Kann, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, said he was heartbroken.
Kann said: “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. They claimed to be Pakistani nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all true Pakistani patriots.”
Pearl’s family members said they were shocked and saddened. Said a family member: “Until a few hours ago we were confident Danny would return safely. We believed no human being would be capable of harming such a gentle soul.”
Pakistani police arrested a number of people after Pearl disappeared but were unable to trace the young American.
On Friday, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf condemned the “gruesome” murder and ordered security agencies to round up the “gang of terrorists” that committed the crime.
British-Pakistani terror suspect Omar Sheikh, believed to be the mastermind behind the kidnapping, told a court earlier that Pearl was dead but the police initially dismissed the statement.
President Bush condemned the brutal killing and said it would only steel his country’s resolve to stamp out terrorism.
Speaking from a lectern at his hotel in Beijing on the last day of an Asia tour, he said: “The American people are deeply saddened to learn about the loss of Pearl’s life.
“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.
“Those who would threaten Americans, those who would engage in criminal, barbaric acts need to know that these crimes only hurt their cause, and only deepen the resolve of the USA to rid the world of these agents of terror.”
In Washington, the U.S. State Department spokesman described the murder as an “outrage”.
Spokesman Richard Boucher said: “The murder is an outrage and we condemn it. Both the U.S. and Pakistan are committed to identifying the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice.
“We will continue to work closely with the Pakistani authorities, who had made every effort to locate and free Pearl.”
Four days after he was kidnapped, the so-called National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty had sent an e-mail letter showing Pearl in chains. One picture showed Pearl’s captors pointing a gun to his head.
“Pearl’s murder is a crime and an act of terrorism which we condemn. We are deeply saddened. The murder shows that terrorist elements in Pakistan continue to pursue their agenda of mindless violence and hatred and receive safe haven in Pakistan.” : Spokesperson for the Union Ministry of External Affairs.
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