U.S. officials are in possession of videotape that proves Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was killed by his captors. According to various reports, the tape shows the reporter's neck being slit.
This brutal and arbitrary murder is a horrifying blow to the country, to Pearl's pregnant wife and to foreign correspondents everywhere that regularly burrow through danger in quest of the truth.
Together we grieve this senseless suffering. But we must not be frightened and we must not forget the greater struggle to achieve humanity, even as these anti-human forces threaten us.
According to e-mail sent by Pearl's captors, the journalist was
murdered to protest Pakistan's engagement with America in the war on terrorism. Presumably, Pearl's assailants also hoped to undermine the credibility of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who had recently vowed to restrain his country's extremist element.
Traditionally, terrorist groups have sought to use the media as a conduit to convey their grievances and to humanize their causes.
Lacking the ability to defeat the United States outright, perhaps Pearl's captors sought to destabilize our counter-terrorism efforts through fear tactics. By making no distinction between military personnel and civilians, perhaps they thought they could erode popular support for a military endeavor.
Likely, they accomplished the opposite.
As President Bush rightly noted in a recent public statement, "Those who would threaten Americans, those who would engage in criminal, barbaric acts, need to know that these crimes only hurt their cause and only deepen the resolve of the United States of America to rid the world of these agents of terror."
In the short term, the United States needs to ratchet up the pressure on Pakistan to crack down on those fundamental militants within its own borders, who remain intent on delivering evil.