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U-S, Pakistan Take Seriously Death Threat Against - 2002-01-31


U-S and Pakistani officials say they are taking seriously a death threat against American journalist Daniel Pearl abducted last week in Pakistan.

The officials say they believe an (electronic) e-mail message from the kidnappers sent Wednesday was authentic because it included two more pictures of the Wall Street Journal reporter.

The kidnappers - a previously unknown Islamic militant group called the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty - threaten to kill the reporter unless the United States release Pakistani detainees captured in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

But its not clear when a 24-hour deadline set in Wednesday's message would expire.

The group also warned all American journalists to leave Pakistan by Saturday, saying there are many spies in Pakistan working under the guise of reporters.

The kidnappers accused Mr. Pearl of being a spy for Israel. In an earlier message the abductors accused Mr. Pearl of being a U-S government agent - a charge the Bush administration and the Wall Street Journal both denied.

A Pakistani government spokesman (Major-General Rashid Qureshi) told reporters in Islamabad today (Thursday) that there is an Indian link to the kidnapping. But he declined to elaborate, saying that the matter is under investigation.

Earlier, Pakistani police said a nationwide manhunt was underway to find Mr. Pearl. They said they were also questioning a Muslim cleric arrested Wednesday in connection with the kidnapping. The cleric (Mubarak Ali Gilani) is said to have links to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

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