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New threat made on reporter's life

January 31, 2002

Associated Press photos
Pearl Pearl

These photos of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl were released by a Pakistani group Saturday.

Pakistani and U.S. law enforcement authorities believe the e-mail — the second sent to several news organizations this week — was from the abductors because it included two more photographs of Pearl that appeared to have been taken in the same series as those attached to the initial claim of responsibility. It wasn't clear when the 24-hour deadline would expire.

A week after Pearl was abducted, Pakistani police on Wednesday reported two advances in the case, although Pearl's whereabouts remain unknown. The Muslim cleric who Pearl was trying to meet at the time of his kidnapping gave himself up to police, claiming no knowledge of the abduction. One of the men allegedly involved in the plot to nab the reporter has been identified as a militant wanted on seven murder charges, according to police.

The e-mail dispatched Wednesday to several news organizations around the world was longer and far more rambling than the first message sent Sunday. It also was rife with spelling errors. Although the message could not be authenticated, police said they were treating it seriously because of the photographs of Pearl that were attached, included one in which a man was pointing a revolver gripped with both hands at Pearl's head.

The message said kidnappers have determined that "contrary to what we thought earlier," Pearl was not working for the CIA, but rather for the Israeli intelligence service. "Therefore, we will execute him within 24 hours unless amreeka flfils our demands," the message continued. "We apologise to his family for the worry caused and we will send them food packages just as amreeka apologised for collateral damage and dropped food packets on the thousands of people ... it had killed."

The latter was an apparent reference to the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly denied that Pearl has any connection to any intelligence agencies. The newspaper on Wednesday issued a new appeal for his release, saying he's "not an agent of any government or agency."

The message received from the purported abductors repeated previous demands for the release of Pakistani prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, access to lawyers and families for Pakistanis jailed in the United States as a result of recent anti-terrorism efforts, and reimbursement for U.S. F-16 fighter planes that Pakistan ordered in the 1980s but which were barred from delivery to Pakistan under economic and military sanctions imposed in 1990.

The note concluded that all American journalists should leave Pakistan within the next three days, unless the U.S. government meets those demands. "Anyone remaining after that will be targetted," the message said.

Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger on Monday sent a reply, made public Tuesday, to the first e-mail. He appealed for Pearl's release so that he could "return home safe to his wife and soon-to-be-born child." Pearl's wife, Mariane, is a French free-lance journalist six months pregnant with their first child.

In an interview Wednesday broadcast by CNN, she said, "I haven't slept for six days ... but I have hope." She said a pregnancy-related illness prevented her from joining her husband on the interview he was headed to the night he was kidnapped, as she usually did.


By MOLLY MOORE and KAMRAN KHAN, Washington Post.


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