Skip to comments.Fate of kidnapped reporter unclear
Posted on 02/01/2002 10:53:30 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
Fate of kidnapped reporter unclear
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A caller purporting to represent the kidnappers of reporter Daniel Pearl telephoned the U.S. Consulate in Karachi on Friday and demanded $2 million and the release of the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, senior police officials said.
However, CNN said it received an e-mail from those claiming to hold the Wall Street Journal correspondent, saying he had been killed. CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said "We did receive an e-mail reporting that Daniel Pearl was killed."
Steve Goldstein, spokesman for Dow Jones which owns the Journal, said, "We've seen the latest reports, and we remain hopeful they are not true."
Pakistani police officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the caller gave the Americans 36 hours to meet the demand for money and the freeing of the envoy, Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, who was arrested in Pakistan and handed over to U.S. authorities.
The officials said police believe the call may be genuine. A demand for Zaaef's release also was made in an e-mail sent Sunday by those claiming to hold Pearl.
Officials at the consulate in Karachi were not available. An official at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad refused to confirm or deny the report.
President Bush vowed earlier Friday to pursue any clue that could lead to the rescue the Wall Street Journal reporter a day after a deadline for killing the journalist was extended.
"We are working with the Pakistan government to chase down any leads possible for example, trying to follow the trail of the e-mails that have been sent, with the sole purpose of saving this man, of finding him and rescuing" him, Bush said during a White House appearance with Jordan's King Abdullah II.
It was impossible to determine whether an unsigned e-mail, received by Western and Pakistani media on Thursday, was actually sent by the kidnappers. The 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter was abducted Jan. 23 in Karachi while working to secure an interview with the founder of an obscure militant Muslim sect.
"We will give you one more day. If America will not meet our demands, we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan," the message said.
It warned that unless the demands are met, "the Amrikans (Americans) will get what they deserve. Don't think this is will be the end. It is the beginning and it is a real war on Amrikans."
"Amrikans will get the taste of death and destructions what we had got" in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the e-mail said.
The first e-mail, sent over the weekend, demanded Pakistanis captured in fighting in Afghanistan and now held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be returned for trial. It said Pearl would be held in the same "inhuman" conditions as the Guantanamo prisoners.
Speaking Thursday in Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell ruled out bending to the group's demands that prisoners from the Afghan campaign be returned.
"The demands that the kidnappers have placed are not demands that we can either deal with or get into a negotiation about," he said.
An unsigned e-mail Wednesday accused Pearl of working for the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, and set a 24-hour deadline for killing him. It also demanded all American journalists leave Pakistan within three days or become targets.
Thursday's message gave no reason for the extension and did not specify at what time the countdown began.
A source close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday's e-mail was sent through the same server as the one received Wednesday. Thursday's message did not include photographs of Pearl, as e-mails Wednesday and Sunday did.
Police claim they are pursuing several leads but have refused to give details. On Thursday, a source close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a key suspect named Arif was reported dead in southern Punjab province.
The source said police went to Arif's home but were told by his family that he had died a few days ago in Afghanistan. Arif was believed to have been one of Pearl's contacts, the source said.
A police report, obtained by The Associated Press, identified Arif as a member of Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, an Islamic extremist group with close ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.
The report said Arif introduced Pearl to Chadrey Bashir Ahmad Shabbbir, a follower of Muslim cleric, Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, whom Pearl was hoping to interview for a story on Islamic militants when he disappeared.
Police have been unable to find Shabbir. Pakistani police arrested Gilani on Wednesday and carried out several raids, but said they don't know where Pearl is being held.
Pearl's wife, Marianne, is six months pregnant with their first child.
The first e-mail purporting to be from Pearl's kidnappers, sent Sunday, was signed by the heretofore unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. The message included pictures of Pearl with a pistol pointed to his head.
The Wall Street Journal has sent repeated return e-mails denying Pearl is an agent of any government and appealing for his life.
Boxing great Muhammad Ali, a Muslim, also appealed for Pearl's captors to show "compassion and kindness" and release him.
"I have not lost Allah's hope in us to show compassion where none exists and to extend mercy in the most difficult of circumstances. We as Muslims must lead by example," the 60-year-old former heavyweight champion said in a statement.
Separately, Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of Hamas, a militant Islamic Palestinian group, said the kidnappers should not take Pearl's life.
"Since its establishment Hamas has respected journalists and the freedom of speech and always backs the freedom of speech and journalism," Zahar said. "We hope that everyone understands the great and noble mission of journalists and doesn't threaten their lives."
Note how these toads express hatred for all things Western, but still use computers, email, aircraft, hi-tech explosives, etc.? What loathsome hypocrits.
The other demands did not seem credible. Hopefully, he is not dead, however.
Is this something like a milkless bull ?
The whole thing seemed confused and almost unplanned, like a crime of opportunity with different people leaping up to claim to be the "spokesman" for the kidnappers. If Daniel Pearl is dead, I suspect he was probably killed shortly after they got him; certainly, they didn't provide anything that might indicate he was really alive (the photo of a man with his head down doesn't count)
I hope we find somebody to really blast on this one. Killing journalists is a bad precedent; no matter how sketchy (or even biased, in some cases, not Pearl's) a report is, at least it provides us with more information than we would have had without it. But of course, truth is the enemy of Islam...
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