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Group threatens to kill kidnapped U.S. reporter

KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- The kidnappers of a Wall Street Journal reporter in Pakistan claim their hostage is an agent for Israel and have threatened to kill him within 24 hours if their demands are not met.

They also have warned American journalists in Pakistan to get out of the country within three days or "be targeted," according to an e-mail obtained by CNN and other news agencies.

Meanwhile, the reporter's pregnant wife said Wednesday that she "hasn't slept in six days" and begged officials open to keep a dialogue with the captors of her husband, Daniel Pearl.

The e-mail sent Wednesday was accompanied by more pictures of Pearl, who was abducted last week. An earlier e-mail also contained photographs, including one showing a gun held to Pearl's head.

Marianne Pearl, wife of kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, talks to CNN's Ben Wedeman in an exclusive interview (January 30)

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Kidnappers' demands:
- Release of all Pakistanis in U.S. custody as a result of war in Afghanistan

- More access to lawyers and families for Pakistanis taken into custody in the United States after September 11

- Release of Abdul Salam Zaeef, former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan

- Transfer of U.S.-built F-16s, held up after Islamabad's May 1998 nuclear tests, to Pakistan

The kidnappers call themselves "The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty." They have demanded the release of all Pakistanis held by the United States as a result of the war on terrorism.

In the previous e-mail, the group claimed that Pearl, 38, was a CIA agent, an accusation U.S. officials and the Wall Street Journal deny. In the new message, the kidnappers said they had determined Pearl did not work for the CIA, but "in fact he is working for Mossad," the Israeli intelligence agency.

"Therefore we will execute him within 24 hours unless America fulfills our demands," the e-mail said. "We apologize to his family for the worry caused and we will send them food packages."

Pearl's wife, Marianne, said what the kidnappers are asking is beyond her control. She said she hoped that they give her something she can actually do.

In an interview with CNN, Marianne Pearl said both she and her husband have the goal of understanding the Pakistani people and creating a dialogue between them and other countries in hopes of helping to create a better world for the child she is expecting in a few months.

She said that was what she has focused on since her husband was kidnapped.

"I haven't slept for six days ... but I have hope. I am not desperate, because if I stop believing in creating this dialogue, then I stop believing everything else," she said. "I can't do that. I'm pregnant."

Pearl's wife, a French citizen who also is a journalist, is six months pregnant with the couple's first child. 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.

When asked by CNN if she had a message for her husband, she said simply, "I love you."

In a prepared statement, the Wall Street Journal appealed for Pearl's immediate release, saying he was not working for "any government or agency."

"He is a reporter for us -- nothing more or less," the statement said. "Killing or harming Danny would only discredit the cause of the people holding him. Releasing him would permit him to tell their story, as they have related it to him."

In their e-mail, the kidnappers said they did not intend "to cause any trouble for Pakistan, only to take it out of the slave mentality it has towards America." They closed the mail by warning that "many Pakistanis" were ready to take up their cause and that many Americans "are sitting ducks."

"Prime suspect" arrested

Earlier Wednesday, the Pakistani Interior Ministry said there had been a break in the case with an arrest. The suspect was identified as Sheikh Mubarik ali Gilani, the head of a fundamentalist Islamic group Pearl had wanted to interview.

"We have arrested our prime suspect," Pakistani Interior Secretary Tasneem Noorani said. However, there was still no sign of Pearl, and Noorani gave no indication when Pearl might be freed.

A spokesman for Gilani said, "Our prayers are with him (Gilani). This is bad."

Pearl, missing since last Wednesday, was on his way to see Gilani, the leader of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra group, when he was kidnapped. Pearl had wanted to ask Gilani about contacts his group supposedly had with Richard Reid -- the accused "shoe bomber" now in jail in the United States -- and the al Qaeda terrorist network.

Khalid Khwaja, who described himself as a friend of the sheikh, told CNN no arrangements were actually made with Pearl. He said Pearl's kidnappers have nothing to do with Jammat ul-Fuqra. In addition, Khwaja denied that ul-Fuqra has had anything to do with Reid.

The ul-Fuqra was on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations during the early 1990s but is not currently on the list.




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