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Daniel Pearl's slaughter must not go unpunished



Published: Wed, February 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Daniel Pearl, a highly respected, dedicated reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was not murdered because of his journalism. Pearl was kidnapped and subsequently beheaded because as an American Jew he became the unwitting target of extremist Islamic terrorists. The loss of his life is just as significant as the loss of the lives of the more than 3,000 people who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America's mainland.

It doesn't matter that Pearl was killed in Karachi, Pakistan. And it certainly shouldn't matter that he was in a highly volatile region of the world by his own free will. The reporter was lured to a meeting in Karachi with the promise of a major story -- and that's when he disappeared.

The arrest of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, believed to be the mastermind of the abduction and slaying, before Pearl's death was confirmed represents a major break for investigators. Saeed must be persuaded to reveal the identities of his co-conspirators and to assist in recovering the body. Pearl's wife, who is pregnant with their first child, and his family have a right to his remains.

Extradition: After that, the Pakistani government, led by President Pervez Musharraf, who has emerged as a key player in the Bush administration's war on global terrorism, should give serious consideration to President Bush's extradition request for Saeed and the other terrorists involved in Pearl's death. An innocent man was killed because of who he was -- a proud American who carried the mantle of freedom around the world.

Saeed and his ilk, led by the world's leading terrorist, Osama bin Laden, view the Daniel Pearls of the world as a threat. Their existence depends on the Big Lie being swallowed by the masses who live in constant fear.

Pearl's killers must be brought to justice as a sign of our determination to wipe out the forces of evil wherever they may exist. In the war on terrorism, America's might is right.

But in seeking extradition, President Bush must bear in mind that President Musharraf is walking a political tightrope and that the Islamic extremists have him in their crosshairs because of his support of the United States.

Thus, if the Pakistani government makes the case that extradition could result in an uprising by Musharraf's enemies, it may be necessary for the Bush administration to rethink its position.

Preview: If that should occur, however, the United States would be well within its rights to request a preview of the case that is developed against Saeed and his cohorts. These killers should not be allowed to go free on a technicality or because Pakistan's intelligence service, which had ties to the former Taliban rulers in Afghanistan, intentionally tainted the evidence. It is worth remembering that the Taliban government, which was ousted by the United States and its allies, had provided bin Laden and his Al-Qaida terrorist organization with a safe haven.

Bin Laden and Al-Qaida were responsible for the bloody attacks on the United States.




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