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"God Bless Daniel Pearl"

February 22, 2002

President George W. Bush expressed sympathy for the family of US journalist Daniel Pearl, who has been brutally murdered by a radical Pakistani group, and condemned the killing as a "babaric" act.

Brutally murdered - US journalist Daniel PearlImage: AP

US President George W. Bush has condemned the "babaric" murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped by a radical group in Pakistan in January.

He expressed special sympathy for Pearl's wife’s unborn baby, "who will now know his father only through the memory of others".

"May God bless Daniel Pearl.", he said.

Fatal investigation

The 38-year-old reporter disappeared in Karachi on January 23 as he tried to make contact with radical Islamic groups and investigate possible links between alleged shoe bomber Richard Reid and Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist network.

His kidnappers accused him of being a spy - initially for the CIA, then for the Israeli intelligence agency.

Sad and angry

Speaking at his hotel in Beijing on the last day of his Asian tour, President Bush said the war on terror could only be pursued with deepened resolve.

Mr Bush said Americans were "sad and angry" but insisted such acts could only harden the resolve of the US to wage war on global terrorism.

"Those who would engage in criminal, barbaric acts need to know that these crimes only hurt their cause", he said.

On the hunt

Pakistani police have stepped up their hunt for the killers after authorities received a videotape believed to show the 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporters's throat being cut.

Mukhtar Ahmad Sheikh, interior minister of Sindh province, which includes Karachi, said instructions had gone out to all investigation teams to find the culprits as soon as possible.

The order came after Mr Musharraf expressed his "profound grief" and vowed to catch "each and every one of the gang of terrorists".

The videotape, showing the grisly murder of the US journalist, was in the possession of a Pakistani reporter for 24 hours, before being viewed by US consulate officials, police and a representative of the Wall Street Journal.

Only when the editor confirmed the figure on the tape was Pearl was the news of his death released on Thursday night.

According to a Pakistani official, the videotape contained "gruesome scenes" of the murder. "I have been told that the last words uttered by Pearl in the videotape, immediately before his throat was slit, were ‘Yes I am a Jew and my father is a Jew’", he said.

It is not clear whether Pearl was forced to say these words by his kidnappers.

Another Pakistani source close to the investigation told Reuters the videotape of the execution showed Pearl’s neck being cut by a sharp instrument, believed to be a knife. "The scene that apparently confirmed the murder of Pearl was when one person’s hand cut the reporter’s neck with a sharp tool", the source said.

"Act of babarism"

Pearl's body is yet to be found, and it remains unclear when or where he was murdered.

In a Wall Street Journal statement publisher Peter Kann and managing editor Paul Steiger said: "His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in".