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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 00:14 GMT
Kidnapped US reporter is dead
Daniel Pearl in a photo released by his kidnappers
The kidnappers equated Pearl with an al-Qaeda prisoner
US journalist Daniel Pearl, who was abducted in Pakistan in January as he tried to meet Islamic militants, has been confirmed as dead.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US embassy in Pakistan had received evidence of his death.

Danny's senseless murder lies beyond our comprehension

Statement issued by Pearl family

Officials in the Pakistani city of Karachi said that videotape showing scenes of Pearl's murder was received by US and Pakistani officials late on Thursday evening.

US President George W Bush said Americans were "sad and angry" about Pearl's killing and warned that such "barbaric acts" would only strengthen their resolve to fight terrorism.

"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 United States of America to rid the world of these agents of terror," he said, speaking during a visit to China.

Daniel Pearl in captivity
The kidnappers had issued ultimatums
The publisher and managing editor of Pearl's paper, the Wall Street Journal, described Pearl's death as "an act of barbarism".

In a joint statement, Peter Kann and Paul Steiger praised him as an "outstanding colleague and great reporter".

Pearl's wife, Mariane, will soon give birth to the couple's first child.

A statement issued by his family said that they believed "no human being would be capable of harming such a gentle soul".

Pressure on Pakistan

The State Department's Mr Boucher added that the US would work with Pakistan to identify Pearl's kidnappers and bring them to justice.

He commended Pakistan for having made "every effort" to rescue the journalist.

Paul Steiger, Wall Street Journal's managing editor
Steiger: "An outstanding colleague, a great reporter and a dear friend"

The BBC's Stephen Sackur says that Pearl's death will step up pressure on Pakistan to take firm action against suspected Islamic militants.

The Pakistani authorities have made four arrests since Pearl went missing on 23 January from Karachi.

The reporter is believed to have been researching possible links between the alleged "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and the al-Qaeda Islamic militant organisation led by Osama Bin Laden.

E-mail link

Three of the suspects are accused of sending e-mails with pictures of the journalist in detention, and one of them confessed his guilt to a Karachi court earlier on Thursday.

The e-mails, which showed Pearl shackled and threatened with a gun, were sent to various US news organisations along with demands for the US to free al-Qaeda suspects from Pakistan.

Fahad Naseem told the court that he had sent the e-mails on the orders of a British-born Islamic militant, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh - also known as Sheikh Omar - who is in custody in Pakistan.

Sheikh Omar wearing a garland seen in a photo dated 16 November 2000
Sheikh Omar changed his statements frequently
According to his lawyer, Mr Naseem said he was told by Sheikh Omar two days before the abduction that a "Jew working against Islam" was to be kidnapped and his pictures would have to be distributed by e-mail.

Sheikh Omar allegedly ordered a Polaroid camera and scanner to be bought, and a few days later Mr Naseem and the other accused were given the pictures of Pearl to send.

Mr Naseem said he had never actually met the US journalist, his lawyer said.

The last known message from Mr Pearl's apparent captors was sent on 30 January, saying the 38-year-old reporter would be killed in 24 hours.

Sheikh Omar told a Pakistani court last week that he had kidnapped Mr Pearl and believed him dead.

Police in Punjab province are also searching for another suspect in the case who goes by the names of Imtiaz Siddiqui and Amjad Hussain.

The BBC's Paul Welsh
"The FBI have video tape from Pakistan which proves he's dead"
Pearl family spokesman, Gary Foster
"We are shocked and saddened"
Paul Steiger of The Wall Street Journal
"His murder is an act of barbarism"
See also:

06 Feb 02 | South Asia
Suspect named in reporter's kidnap
14 Feb 02 | South Asia
Pakistan disputes reporter death claim
06 Feb 02 | South Asia
In pictures: Daniel Pearl kidnapping
21 Feb 02 | South Asia
Pearl kidnap suspect admits role
22 Feb 02 | South Asia
Timeline: Daniel Pearl kidnap
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