NEW YORK -- A month after he was taken hostage in Pakistan, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has been confirmed dead -- murdered by his Islamic extremist captors, Pakistani authorities say, the crime captured on videotape.
The State Department confirmed Pearl's death, saying the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan received evidence of the murder on Thursday. Sources close to the investigation who had seen the tape said it showed Pearl dead, his throat cut.
The announcements crushed the hopes of Pearl's colleagues and his pregnant wife, who had pleaded for the reporter's safe return ever since he was abducted in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on Jan. 23. The Journal said its staff was "heartbroken," and Pearl's parents and two sisters said they were "shocked and saddened" by the news.
"Up until a few hours ago, we were confident that Danny would return safely, for we believe that no human being could be capable of harming such a gentle soul," they said in a statement from their home in the Encino section of Los Angeles.
Pearl's wife, Mariane, was told of his death in Karachi, where she had been staying while awaiting word on her husband's fate, said Steve Goldstein, a vice president of Dow Jones & Co., the owner of the Journal.
In the weeks since her husband's capture, Mariane Pearl, a freelance journalist, had pleaded for his freedom and offered herself in his place. She is now seven months pregnant with the couple's first child.
In Beijing, a grim-faced President Bush said "all Americans are sad and angry to learn of the murder."
"May God bless Daniel Pearl," Bush said.
Pearl was abducted after arranging to interview the leader of a radical Muslim faction with purported ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network and terror suspect Richard C. Reid, who was arrested on a Paris-Miami flight he allegedly boarded with explosives in his shoes.
Pakistani officials said there were indications that Pearl had been lured into a trap by false information. Pakistani police have seized several suspects, including an extremist who said in court that he engineered Pearl's abduction.
The videotape confirming Pearl's death "contained scenes showing Mr. Pearl in captivity and scenes of his murder by the kidnappers," the interior minister of the Sindh province, which includes Karachi, said Thursday.
"The tape appears to be correct," said the minister, Mukhtar Ahmad Sheikh.
A Pakistani investigator told The Associated Press that kidnappers killed Pearl by cutting his throat, and then decapitated him. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said the kidnappers made two videotapes, one longer than the next, that contained graphic images of Pearl's death and the moments afterward. Another source close to the investigation said a tape showed Pearl before he was killed saying into the videocamera, "I am a Jew, my mother is a Jew."
No details were immediately available on exactly where or when the reporter killed. Karachi police said no body had been recovered so far.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher provided no details on the evidence received by the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a videotape purportedly showed Pearl either dead or being killed, and the FBI was evaluating the tape's authenticity.
Reaction to the announcement was swift. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf offered condolences and ordered security forces to apprehend "each and every one of the gang of terrorists" involved in Pearl's killing.
Bush decried Pearl's slaying and said such crimes "only deepen the resolve of the United States" to fight terrorism. Speaking Friday, on the last day of his six-day Asia tour, he expressed special sympathy for Pearl's wife.
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