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Is Daniel Pearl Still Alive?; A Look at America's Ice Princess Michelle Kwan; A Look at 'Survivor' Creator Mark Burnett

Aired February 16, 2002 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: She's an ice skating princess who rules the rink.


MICHELE KWAN: All I can remember is every day tying my skates and a big smile on my face, excited to go on the ice.


ANNOUNCER: She reached athletic excellence, only to see a lifelong dream slip away.


KWAN: I wish I came home with the gold, but I came home with the silver, and I was happy with that, not completely satisfied.


ANNOUNCER: A seasoned skater under pressure to make her mark in Salt Lake.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she wins an Olympic gold medal, I think she will be seen as the greatest figure skater in history.


ANNOUNCER: Plus, he reached fame playing on America's survival instincts. Survival guru Mark Burnett battles for ratings in the Reality TV slump.


MARK BURNETT, CREATOR, "SURVIVOR": This is not reality TV anymore. This is a big feature film crew working with expressing reality.


ANNOUNCER: And our "Person of the Week," kidnapped by terrorists in Pakistan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIANNE PEARL, DANIEL PEARL'S WIFE: This is my life. This is my baby's life, and my husband's life.


ANNOUNCER: Daniel Pearl, husband, father to be, and missing American journalist, their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

DARYN KAGAN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Daryn Kagan. She made be the most recognizable face at the Winter Games, Michele Kwan, media darling, sentimental favorite.

We'll begin our look at her life and career, right after this look at our "Person of the Week."


KAGAN (voice-over): Pakistan is not the most hospitable place for an American, but Daniel Pearl is a journalist. His job is to cover conflict. Tucked in the mobbed streets of Karachi, sits the village restaurant. It was here, on January 23rd, that the Wall Street Journal Bureau Chief planned to get a scoop.

Pearl was working a source, trying to score an interview with a militant leader in the Pakistan underworld, a man with possible ties to Richard Reid, the alleged shoe bomber.

RICHARD MURPHY, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: He had gotten a tip that some sources with one of the Islamist militant groups living in Kashmir was willing to speak to him.

KAGAN: The meeting was a trap. Instead of hooking up with a story contact, Pearl was whisked away, a captive somewhere in a city of 12 million people, where kidnapping and carjacking are commonplace.

Three days later, news organizations received the first in a series of e-mails. They included a rambling list of demands, and chilling photos of Pearl, a pistol pointed at his head.

PEARL: OK, I've simply seen enough, and what can I do? Nobody has contacted me. Nobody is trying to, you know, to tell me what I should do.

KAGAN: Daniel Pearl's wife is six months pregnant. Just two days before the abduction, the couple found out they would have a baby boy, but now pregnant and alone in Pakistan, Mariane Pearl can only wait.

PEARL: It has to communicate into something, you know, that I can actually do or Danny can actually do.

KAGAN: The captors threatened to kill Daniel Pearl in 24 hours. Later, e-mails pushed the deadline back. The first message accused the journalist of spying for the U.S. Other e-mails accused Pearl of spying for Israel.

ROBERT BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Mr. Pearl is a respected journalist. He has no connection with our government.

KAGAN: The respected journalist came from quiet beginnings. Born in Princeton, New Jersey, young Daniel grew up the middle child in an academic family. The Pearls moved to Los Angeles, where Daniel went to Birmingham High School.

In 1985, he graduated from Stanford University, with a degree in communications, and started his journalism career at the Berkshire Eagle in Massachusetts.

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

KAGAN: Two years after joining the Eagle, Daniel did hit the big league, as a cub reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Pearl worked in Atlanta, and later Washington.

HELENE COOPER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Danny is the kind of reporter who has like made his career on, you know, explaining other cultures to the readers of the Wall Street Journal, and that's the perfect sort of thing that he could do with these kidnappers.

KAGAN: In '96, he made his move overseas. While working out of the London Bureau, Pearl had his first taste of warfare, covering the war in the Balkans.

But Daniel Pearl was never the typical war correspondent. He's soft-spoken, cautious. He plays the violin. Colleagues say Pearl did not relish the combat environment, but saw it as a necessary part of his job, seeking out the truth.

While working in Paris, Daniel Pearl met Mariane, a freelance journalist at a mutual friend's birthday party.

PEARL: When I met him, he was also traveling around, you know, trying to go to places where people, like there was a lack of understanding, so he could write about it.

KAGAN: The couple shared a passion for understanding other cultures.

PEARL: We are two people who met and fell in love because we have the same ideal.

KAGAN: The two got married in '99. Daniel played the violin at his own wedding. A year later, they packed up their life and moved to Mombay (ph), India. Pearl took the reigns of the Wall Street Journal's South Asia Bureau. As war flared in Afghanistan, the Pearls headed north to cover the angry streets of Pakistan.

PEARL: The reason like why we are in Pakistan today is because we wanted to know more about the people, and write about their views and keep working on that same idea of how we're going to create a dialog.

KAGAN: Daniel Pearl was a believer in that dialog. But it was that belief that in part led to his nightmare.

PEARL: If Danny went to see these people without, you know, like taking care of his own security and having people, whatever, you know he trusted, it's because he's pure in his attitude.

KAGAN: A trust shattered with Pearl's abduction. Eight days after the kidnapping, Pearl's captors sent out their final message. "We give you one more day. If America will not meet our demands, we will kill Daniel."

Among the demands, the release of all Pakistani prisoners held in Guantanamo, Cuba, and the delivery of U.S. built fighter planes to Pakistan.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The demands that the kidnappers have placed are not demands that we can meet or deal with, or get into a negotiation about.

KAGAN: On February 4th, Mariane Pearl made an emotional plea for her husband's release. She even volunteered to trade places with him.

PEARL: I was like, you know, please make contact with me. I'm, you know, I'm ready.

KAGAN: Sixteen days after Pearl's disappearance, a breakthrough. Police in Pakistan found a computer, which they say the captors used to send their e-mails. The computer's owner pointed investigators to the man now suspected of masterminding the kidnapping, Ahmed Omar Saeed.

On Tuesday, Pakistani police captured the 27-year-old Saeed. Born in England, educated at the London School of Economics, he has ties to bin Laden's al Qaeda network. A trail of e-mails shows how Saeed, using a nickname, struck up a rapport with Pearl.

JAMEEL YUSIF, INVESTIGATOR: There became a friendship with the e-mail. There became a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) discussing family illnesses and all that, and slowly, slowly bating him to an appointment, as they were doing him a favor.

KAGAN: If true, a devious plot from a man, who in '94 was arrested in India for kidnapping tourists. He was released two years ago as part of a deal to end an Indian Airlines hijacking. Saeed hasn't disclosed Pearl's location. Shortly after his capture, he said the journalist was alive. Then on Thursday, he recanted saying as far as he knew, Pearl was dead. For now, Daniel Pearl remains missing, leaving his wife to worry and wonder.

PEARL: Don't harm an innocent man, you know, because you're just going to make, OK create more, you know, one more misery, you know, use Danny as a symbol and all of this is completely wrong, completely wrong.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Michele Kwan, a sentimental favorite determined to secure her place in history.


KWAN: When I was young, I always wanted to be remembered as a legend.


ANNOUNCER: The long road to Salt Lake for America's ice princess, when we return.


ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS with Daryn Kagan.



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