By: Zahid Hussain, Associated Press Writer
(AP) The Wall Street Journal appealed Thursday to the kidnappers of journalist Daniel Pearl to spare his life after an e-mail purportedly sent by the abductors threatened to kill him within 24 hours.
The e-mail also warned American journalists to leave Pakistan within three days or “be targeted.”
“Killing Danny will achieve nothing for you,” Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger said in a return e-mail to the kidnappers. “His murder would be condemned by the entire world, and your group would be viewed as murderers without serious political objectives.”
Instead, Steiger urged the kidnappers to release Pearl with a “detailed list of the issues and grievances that are important to you” so that he “can articulate them to others.”
“Only through Danny’s safe release can your group have the opportunity to tell your side of the story and to have the entire world focus on your words,” Steiger said.
Pearl was trying to arrange an interview with a Muslim cleric, Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, when he disappeared Jan. 23 in Karachi. The heretofore unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty sent e-mails last weekend to news organizations demanding that Pakistanis held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be returned here for trial.
The e-mail included pictures of Pearl with a pistol pointed to his head.
A second e-mail sent Wednesday alleged that Pearl was working for the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad. “Therefore, we will execute him within 24 hours unless Amreeka (sic) fulfills our demands,” the threatening e-mail said.
It accused U.S. journalists of working for intelligence agencies and warned “all Amreekan (sic) journalists” to leave Pakistan within three days. “Anyone remaining after that will be targeted,” it said.
No times were given for the start of the countdown either for Pearl’s killing or for U.S. journalists to leave.
The Wednesday e-mail was sent to both Western and Pakistani news organizations and contained phrases similar to those in e-mails sent over the weekend. It included two photographs of Pearl wearing the same clothing as he was in pictures released Sunday.
Pearl’s wife, Marianne, who is pregnant, said in an interview with CNN that she and her husband believed their role as journalists was to create dialogue. She appealed to the kidnappers to open a dialogue with her about winning her husband’s freedom.
“This is completely wrong, to hold us. It’s just creating more misery and that’s it. Nothing can come out of there,” she said.
Asked if she had a message for her husband, Marianne Pearl said: “I love you.”
She said the two typically worked on stories together.
“I’m pregnant, I was sick. Otherwise I would have gone with him,” she said.
She said she had not slept in six days, but was not desperate and was keeping up hope.
Dow Jones spokesman Steve Goldstein said the interview was arranged by the company. “We placed Marianne on CNN International, and the interview was also distributed to Pakistan TV and a copy was given to all the networks,” he said.
Pearl disappeared after leaving for an appointment at a Karachi restaurant with a contact whom he hoped could arrange an interview with Gilani, head of the small militant Islamic group Tanzimul Fuqra.
On Wednesday, police apprehended Gilani in the northern city of Rawalpindi and transported him to Karachi, police official Mazoor Mughal said. Police said that they did not know where Pearl was being held but that they carried out raids Wednesday in several Pakistani cities in connection with the investigation.
In a statement Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal denied that Pearl was an agent of any government. “He is a reporter for us — nothing more or less,” the statement said. “He cannot affect the policy of the U.S. or Pakistani government. Nor can we.”
The latest e-mail purportedly from Pearl’s captors included an apology to his family “for the worry caused.” It said the kidnappers would send food packages “just as Amreeka (sic) apologized for collateral damage and dropped food packages” in Afghanistan during last year’s bombing campaign.
“We hope Mr. Danny’s family will be grateful for the food packets that we send them just as the Amreekan (sic) public expected the Afghans to be grateful for the food packets its Air Force was dropping on them,” the e-mail said.
When trying to meet Gilani, Pearl was working on various stories, including possible links between Pakistani groups and Richard C. Reid, accused of trying to blow up an American Airlines plane with explosives hidden in his sneakers.
Pakistani authorities said Pearl was most likely being held by a known radical Muslim faction — Harkat ul-Mujahedeen — linked to the al-Qaida terrorist organization.
The State Department warned U.S. citizens Wednesday to consider carefully plans to travel to Pakistan. Unconfirmed reports that Americans have been targeted for kidnapping or other terrorist actions were cited by the department in a statement to the media and to U.S. diplomats. The warning cited Pearl’s disappearance.