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Murder of <i>Wall Street Journal</i> Reporter Sparks Outrage, Concern

The murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has sparked outrage and condemnation. But there is also concern that journalists could increasingly become targets of terrorist groups.

Reaction to Daniel Pearl's death has been swift and pointed. President Bush said his killing would only deepen U.S. resolve to rid the world of terror.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf went on state television to express condolences to Daniel Pearl's family and to issue a new warning to those who carry out terrorist acts inside Pakistan. "I think our resolve increases with such acts, to move more strongly against all such terrorists and those organizations who perpetrate such terrorism, to move against them and liquidate them entirely from the country," he said.

At the Wall Street Journal where Daniel Pearl worked, there was shock and sadness.

Paul Steiger, the Journal's Managing Editor, said "It makes a mockery of everything that Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in. They claim to be Pakistani nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all true Pakistani patriots."

Political analysts and commentators have also been quick to condemn Daniel Pearl's execution. Joseph From, a guest on this week's "Issues in the News" program here in VOA, said "on the surface, you would think that this damaged their cause and that seems to be the popular reaction in the media here, it has damaged their cause. I don't think they see it that way. The more brutal it is, probably from their point of view, the more effective [it is]."

If that is true, there is growing concern that western journalists in Pakistan could become targets for kidnapping and murder.

Susan Bennett is Director of International Exhibits at the Newseum, a Washington area museum about journalism that includes a memorial to reporters killed in the line of duty. "The trend seems to be, around the world, targeting journalists for the work they do. Not just Daniel Pearl, but in other countries last year journalists were picked out and selected for killing, not because they were covering a conflict but merely because of the jobs they were doing," she said.

Nafisa Hoodhboy worked as a reporter for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. She believes foreign journalists working in Pakistan are at greater risk now that the Taleban has been removed from power in neighboring Afghanistan. "The fact that al-Qaida and many of the Islamic militants have shifted from Afghanistan into Pakistan has now made the area a dangerous place for journalists and particularly western journalists," she said.

Susan Bennett with the Newseum predicted that journalists will be more careful in the wake of Daniel Pearl's murder, but no less determined to get the story. "I think there will be a pause for reflection where editors think about the assignments they give reporters and reporters will think about the precautions they need to take," she said. "But I think if anything, Daniel Pearl's vicious murder will just harden the resolve of journalists around the world to get the story and get it right."

In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement praising Daniel Pearl as a courageous journalist who believed in the truth and who died searching for it.