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Kidnappers Extend US Journalist Execution Deadline

An e-mail message believed to be from the kidnappers of an American Journalist in Pakistan says the deadline for his execution has been extended. The kidnappers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl had threatened to kill him Thursday if the United States did not meet a series of demands including better treatment of terror suspects being held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The extension of the deadline follows an emotional appeal by The Wall Street Journal, which pleaded with the kidnappers to release the reporter, saying his killing would achieve nothing.

Pakistani and U.S. officials say they are taking seriously the death threat against Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. They believe the electronic message is from the abductors because it includes two more pictures of the journalist.

Pakistan's government says it is making every effort possible for the recovery of the American journalist.

Government spokesman Major-General Rashid Qureshi says there has been progress in the investigation. He accuses neighboring India of being behind the kidnapping to 'defame Pakistan'. "I cannot go into the amount of details because of jeopardizing the investigation," he said. "However, what I can say at this stage is that there is an Indian linkage in this. It is very, very unfortunate." Indian officials have denied the allegations calling them ridiculous.

The Wall Street Journal reporter is based in the Indian city of Bombay. He disappeared a week ago in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi while trying to arrange an interview with an Islamic leader, Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani.

Mr. Gilani allegedly is linked to terror suspect Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Pakistani spokesman Rashid Qureshi says he was arrested Wednesday and is being interrogated. "He has been taken into custody," explained Mr. Qureshi. "He is part of the investigation and there are leads that have come out of that. I will not be able to go into details because we do not want anyone involved in this case to be alerted."

Mr. Pearl's kidnappers are said to be members of a previously unknown militant Islamic group. They are now accusing him of being a spy for Israel. But in an earlier message the group alleged Mr. Pearl was working for Central Intelligence Agency.

The Wall Street Journal and American officials say Mr. Pearl is not a spy for anyone.

The kidnappers have also threatened other American journalists in Pakistan if the United States does not meet its demands. They include the return of any Pakistani nationals, among the al-Qaida prisoners held by the United States, to face trial in Pakistan.

The State Department has renewed its warning to American citizens not to travel to Pakistan.