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Video Shows Journal Reporter Killed by Pakistani Kidnappers

By Bob Drogin and Geoffrey Mohan
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- washington

Terrorism claimed another U.S. victim Thursday when a videotape recovered in Pakistan showed that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl had been killed by his captors.

Colleagues said the gruesome video indicated that Pearl was executed shortly after several U.S. newspapers received e-mail photographs in late January showing the journalist in chains and with a pistol to his head. The e-mails came from a group of self-described Pakistani nationalists.

Pearl, 38, was abducted in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on Jan. 23 while investigating local ties between alleged “shoe bomber” Richard C. Reid and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror network.

An intense investigation by Pakistani officials, backed by the FBI and the CIA, had raised hopes as recently as this week that Pearl would be rescued or released unharmed. But officials said the videotape showed Pearl being executed in captivity several weeks ago.

“It’s pretty awful, and I hope no one ever sees it who hasn’t had to see it already,” said a Journal editor familiar with the tape.

Paul E. Steiger, the Journal’s managing editor, announced the news to the paper’s Washington bureau Thursday afternoon. In response to questions, Steiger refused to say if Pearl had been tortured but said his body would not be returned to the United States. Pakistani officials said separately that Pearl’s body had not been recovered.

“Lots of people were crying,” one Journal reporter said. “Danny had a lot of friends here.”

The State Department expressed outrage at Pearl’s death. “Both the United States and Pakistan are committed to identifying all the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice,” spokesman Richard Boucher said.

In Beijing, a somber-faced President Bush expressed condolences to Pearl’s family and warned that such “criminal barbaric acts” only stiffen America’s resolve to “rid the world” of terrorism.

“We are really sad for his wife and parents, and his friends and colleagues, who have been clinging to hope for weeks that he would be found alive,” Bush said.

Pearl’s French-born wife, Mariane, is seven months pregnant with their first child. She had remained in Karachi, Pakistan, and made several emotional appeals to her husband’s captors after he disappeared. Colleagues said she plans to fly home Friday to her family in Paris.

“We are heartbroken by his death,” Peter Kann, publisher of the Journal, said in a statement. “Danny was an outstanding colleague, a great reporter and a dear friend of many at the Journal.”

Kann said Pearl’s “murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny’s kidnappers claimed to believe in.