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Fate of Daniel Pearl Unclear

Aired February 1, 2002 - 13:53   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to bring you up to date now on the fate of kidnapped "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl. We are getting conflicting reports from two different groups as to this man's fate.

Let's check in at the State Department with Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, that's right, some Western news organizations received another e-mail from a group claiming to have -- to be the kidnappers of Daniel Pearl. In this latest e-mail, they claim that they have killed him.

Now, I have spoken with State Department official who tell me that they have seen this e-mail, but that they have not been able to analyze it properly, and therefore, they are not able to say whether or not they believe it's authentic.

They have been looking at the three previous e-mails, and they have come to the conclusion before now that those were coming from one group. They claim to have Daniel Pearl.

So at the moment, it is too early for the State Department to make any kind of conclusion. As you mention, there are two conflicting reports. One has to do with this e-mail claiming to have killed Pearl. The other has to do with a phone report that Karachi police have said other kidnappers alleging to have Pearl, claiming they want $2 million in ransom within the next 36 hours.

Again, this is all very preliminary, State Department officials saying that they are looking at the e-mail, but they have no analysis or preliminary advice to offer anyone as to whether or not they believe it's the real Mccoy.

KAGAN: Andrea, one of the frustrations, I understand, in this whole situation has been that this group from the beginning that has claimed to have Daniel Pearl is a little known group. Not a lot of people heard of the group before now.

KOPPEL: In fact, almost no one had heard of it, no one here in the United States or even Pakistanis I had spoken with, Pakistani officials, said that this national movement for the restoration of Pakistani sovereignty was a group that they had never heard of, which is not uncommon, I should say, within the Islamic militant world, and that a lot of the groups tend to reinvent themselves.

One group that's very well known suddenly has a different name the next day if they think that they need to go underground for some reason.

So having said that, until now, these e-mails and today's would be the fourth e-mail they have received in the last week since Pearl disappeared, these e-mails have seemed to provide police with clues that they have been working on.

KAGAN: Andrea Koppel at the State Department.

Andrea, Thank you.

We also want to let you know that along with this latest e-mail, we also have a new comment from "The Wall Street Journal." People of course are very concerned with the fate of Daniel Pearl and Steve Goldberg saying: "We have seen the reports, and we remain hopeful that they are not true, "as we are here at CNN as well. We want to go to the White House and check in with Kelly Wallace.

Kelly, earlier we heard President Bush when he was welcoming King Abdullah of Jordan comment on the investigation and the search for Pearl.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Daryn, you are exactly right. We certainly heard Mr. Bush convey his concern about the situation, and he said U.S. officials certainly working with the Pakistani authorities trying to somehow get Daniel Pearl released.

We can tell you not too much more information than what Andrea conveyed, talking to officials here. They say they are aware of this report, report of this e-mail alleging that Daniel Pearl has been killed.

Officials here, they say cannot confirm this report, and at this time they are seeking more information about the matter.

But going back again to what Mr. Bush said earlier when he was sitting with King Abdullah in the Oval Office, the president, again, conveying his concerns, but also saying he had spoken with FBI director Robert Mueller this morning. The president said that FBI agents following leads. Mr. Bush also eluded to the e-mail, saying they could be providing very much needed clues.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are working with the Pakistani government to chase down any leads possible, for example, trying to follow the trail of the e-mails that had been sent with the sole purpose of saving this man, finding him and rescuing him. We have been in touch with "The Wall Street Journal," and obviously we are deeply concerned, and as is the Pakistani government. And we will continue to get everything we can to rescue him.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Now Mr. Bush of course was out in West Virginia a little bit earlier today talking to Republicans. He is now expected to be on route to Camp David, the presidential retreat, for the weekend. Of course you can expect that he will remain informed and kept up to date about the situation.

But, Daryn, as you know, this administration, it is U.S. policy not to negotiate, not to negotiate for the release, no demands are negotiable. So again, administration working with Pakistani authorities and the FBI, and again officials saying they are trying to confirm this latest report -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Yes, and demands these kidnappers were making are pretty incredible, including the release of all Pakistani detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Clearly that was not going to happen.

WALLACE: Correct, exactly. They are not going to be released. No question they would. They are going to be questioned and then follow through the procedures about what the White House will do with the detainees. So not going to negotiate. And again, lots of questions right now about this latest report -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Kelly Wallace, thank you.

One of the incredible parts of the story is from the beginning, when Daniel Pearl was kidnapped, his kidnappers claimed that he was a CIA agent. People who know Daniel Pearl says that that is just impossible. A follow-up e-mail say we were wrong about him being CIA. In fact, he is agent for Mossad the Israeli intelligence agency, and so then we are going to assassinate him within 24 hours. Another claim that people who know him are saying this is just not possible.

Pearl's wife, Danny Pearl's wife, Marianne, is six months pregnant with their first child, and she sat down a couple of days ago with out Ben Wedeman and talked about her husband and talked about their life work as journalists trying to bring discussion and understanding between different cultures.

Let's listen in to a little bit of that interview.


MARIANNE PEARL, DANIEL'S WIFE: If they don't allow people, like you know, who take the risk, who are willing to go and create the dialogue, we are the last one to be held hostage, to be suffering from that, because we are the one who try to create that dialogue, right? And so I mean, that is what I would tell him.

I also tell him that I trust that he can understand me, because Since I have been in Pakistan, we have been able to create that dialogue. The dialogue has existed. This is what keeps us going. That's why sometimes through tough time. It's not easy for me. I'm also pregnant and all these things, and why am I here? Why I'm not, like, not Comfortable in Paris, and because I believe that, and the dialogue has always won, has always won. So I ask them to have a dialogue, you know. And God, I mean, have you to create that. You can't just like, you know, the statement is not -- there is dialogue, and we have that with the Pakistani people. And so you have to communicate, and for something that can I actually do, or Danny can actually do.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How are you coping with this?

PEARL: I haven't slept for six days, if that's what you are asking. But I have hope. I mean, I'm not -- you know, I'm not desperate, because if I stop believing in creating this dialogue, then I stop believing in everything else. So I can't do that. I'm pregnant.

WEDEMAN: And if you could speak to your husband now, what would you tell him?

PEARL: I love you!


KAGAN: Difficult words to listen to. Marianne Pearl talking about her husband Danny, who was kidnapped over a week ago by a Pakistani group. Let's continue our coverage of the story and bring back our Andrea Koppel, who is at the State Department.

Andrea, once again, conflicting reports about what might have happened to Danny Pearl at this point?

KOPPEL: That's right, Daryn, and according to State Department officials that I've spoken to so far, the State Department has the copy of e-mail, they have taken a look at it, but they have both had an opportunity to provide any kind of analysis or to provide any kind of a conclusion as to whether or not this e-mail is, in fact, from the same individual group that has sent the three previous e-mails claiming to have Daniel Pearl in their custody.

This is very delicate situation. It's obviously very sensitive. They certainly don't want to come to any kind of hasty conclusion, considering the fact that the latest e-mail claims to have killed Daniel Pearl. So for that reason, I would expect that we would probably not hear quickly from officials who are analyzing the e-mail right now.

But having said that, we know from having heard from Secretary of State Powell yesterday from President Bush today, that the U.S. has been working very, very closely -- excuse me -- closely with Pakistani investigators on the ground. There's been FBI team that's been there since last week, working, following the trail of the e-mails that have been sent until now. We also know that yesterday's e-mail, which was the third e-mail to come out had said that the deadline for Daniel Pearl's execution, if you will, was going to be extended by 24 hours.

Now, until we got ahold -- Western news organization got ahold of the fourth e-mail today, there had been no news of Daniel Pearl from any of the alleged kidnappers. And so this would be the first bit of news today, since that 24-hour extension was made. At the moment you have people really who are -- I'm sure -- in our viewing audience, family and friends who are sitting on pins and needles to see whether or not this e-mail is in fact the real McCoy.

As you alluded to earlier, mixed messages from Pakistan, because the Pakistani police in Karachi had said they got a phone call from yet another group claiming to have Pearl putting a $2 million bounty on his head and a 36-hour deadline.

So right now it is somewhat confusing, and I think we just sort of have to wait and see when word first comes from the U.S. whether or not this is the real thing.

KAGAN: Just to recap for viewers joining us at the top of the hour. This new e-mail from group that claimed to kidnap Daniel Pearl. They now claimed to have killed him. At the same time, another group saying they were demanding millions of dollar in ransom money for the release of Daniel Pearl.

In a strange twist, we hope the people asking for the ransom are the ones who have him.

KOPPEL: Right.

KAGAN: One more question, Andrea. We talked about the group how very few people heard of the group, and yet there must be somebody of some level sophistication in it, because in trying to trace this e- mail, somebody is being clever in changing the names and code as the e-mail goes through.

KOPPEL: They're extremely, clever. In fact, each e-mail until the most recent three e-mails really been different in tone and tenor. The sender is different. The recipients have been different. But clearly whoever is sending it has a real command of the English slang. Their words "like sitting ducks." They use the cutesy "u" as opposed to y-o-u in writing some of the words out, and so they are trying to, I guess, throw police off their trail. Yet we heard from President Bush that some of the details from these e-mails are providing some leads on the ground, and the hope is that investigators in Pakistan can get to Daniel Pearl before any harm comes to him.

KAGAN: As we heard, with the people from the "Wall Street Journal," that hope does remain alive, with the people who employ him, and from his family members as well.

Andrea Koppel at the State Department, thank you very much.

Well, we've been showing you pictures and you've heard the pleas for his release, but you haven't heard a lot of about Daniel Pearl's background, where is he from and how did his reporting career get started.

Let's learn some of that now from our Brian Cabell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The man behind that now famous, but frightening image -- the photograph of a hostage with a gun to his head -- was born 38 years ago in Princeton, New Jersey. Daniel Pearl, a bright young man, graduated Stanford University with a degree in communications. Journalism was his calling. He returned to the northeast to begin his career.

GRIER HORNER, FMR. EDITOR, "BERKSHIRE EAGLE": He was such a sharp kid that you knew he was going places.

CABELL: He joined "The Berkshire Eagle" in Massachusetts in 1988, won an award for a story the following year.

CLARENCE FANTO, BERKSHIRE EAGLE: The way he interviewed people and the way he wrote stories made it clear that he was destined for the big leagues.

CABELL: And the big leagues it was. "The Wall Street Journal" hired him in 1990, and for the last decade, he has seen the world. He was first headquartered in Atlanta, then Washington, then overseas To London, then to Paris, where he met his wife, Marianne.

PEARL: We are two people who met and fell in love because we have the same ideal. And all my life, all his life and our life together is just a big effort to try to create dialogue between civilizations.

CABELL: His next stop was the Indian city of Mumbai, better known as Bombay. He arrived there in December of 2000, and his most recent articles for "The Journal" dealt with the increasing tensions between India and Pakistan. He was in Karachi, working on story on the Islamic militant underground when he was kidnapped on January 23rd.

Initially, his captors claimed he was an agent for the CIA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Pearl is a respected journalist. He has no connection with our government.

CABELL: Later, his captors claimed pearl worked for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. His colleagues at "The Wall Street Journal" called the charges unfounded. Pearl, they said, is a top- flight journalist, nothing more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a man who lives for three things. He lives for covering stories accurately; he lives for his wife -- they have a wonderful relationship -- and he lives for his unborn child.

CABELL: His wife is six months pregnant with their first child.

Brian Cabell, CNN.





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