Wall Street Journal bureau chief is kidnapped.
January 28, 2002 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Wall Street Journal bureau chief is kidnapped. Hostage-takers demand better treatment of prisions at Guantanamo Bay. But my questions are, (1) Since when do journalists make good hostages and (2) Isn't there any way more creative than the ole hostage-holding-today's-paper as a way to prove that he is alive?
posted by tsarfan (26 comments total)
Shit. I don't know what anyone can do. Poor guy.

Not to make light of the situation, I did laugh when the paper said the terrorists had the Hotmail userid "kidnapperguy".
posted by phatboy at 11:51 AM on January 28, 2002

Nice way to hijack the thread before it even starts, afx.

Journalists, when just considered journalists, do not make good hostages. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for journalists who also happen to be Americans.
posted by mrbula at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2002

kidnapperguys use hotmail, hotmail should be outlawed.
posted by quonsar at 11:57 AM on January 28, 2002

The e-mail was sent sent using Microsoft's free e-mail service, Hotmail, with the user name "kidnapperguy,"

So, 'kidnapperguy@hotmail.com'? Lets see if sending this guy a message gets you on the FBI most wanted list.

Hehe:Your message has been instantly delivered via HotmailDirect to the following recipient(s):

posted by delmoi at 12:01 PM on January 28, 2002

There doesn't appear to be a "kidnapperguy" in the hotmail member directory, but there is a "Kidnapper" from Lahore, Pakistan.

He is single and looking.
posted by phatboy at 12:03 PM on January 28, 2002

I had thought the kidnappers believed him to be CIA rather than a journalist and that the Good Guys were trying to convince him that he was "merely" a reporter.
If the demand is that there be better conditions in Cuba prison, then why not say: ok. Done. You don;t believe us, come and see for yourselves.
posted by Postroad at 12:09 PM on January 28, 2002

It will be interesting to see how Musharraf deals with this. In a way, his response will show how much of his speech about making Pakistan a moderate Islamic country that will battle terrorism foriegn and domestic was BS or not.
posted by thewittyname at 12:42 PM on January 28, 2002

I bet Geraldo Rivera is kicking himself right now:
Get kidnapped and become a hostage! Damn! Why didn't I think of that?
posted by ZachsMind at 12:49 PM on January 28, 2002

Lets see if sending this guy a message gets you on the FBI most wanted list.

Or howabout: let's see if messing with the kidnappers gets their hostage killed. Are you kidding? I hope so. Sheesh...

On another note, they seem to think the guy is CIA. the WSJ is trying to convince them that he is not. But it seems to me that some of this confusion could be exacerbated by some of the press antics over the last several months. Particularly when you've got organizations like FoxNews allowing their reporters to carry guns over there in violation of the Geneva convention. If you follow that link, check out the grafs about Steve Bell.

(while previewing I just saw ZachsMind comment. I bet if they had found Geraldo, and he was armed, what we'd be reading about would be a dead war correspondant instead of one taken hostage)
posted by emptyage at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2002

kidnapperdude and all the other snarky usernames relevant to this person's line of work were already claimed.

So, does this kidnapping blow a hole in the side of Rummy's damage control or what? Maybe its all Powell's fault for worrying in public about how our serviocemen would be treated...
posted by BentPenguin at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2002

" ... So, 'kidnapperguy@hotmail.com'? Lets see if sending this guy a message gets you on the FBI most wanted list ..."

" ... I bet Geraldo Rivera is kicking himself right now ...".

Hey I've got a great idea. How about if we send kidnapperguy a message asking him to kidnap Geraldo? Not only wouldn't this put anyone on the most wanted list, it would probably lead to piles of thank-you notes from the FBI. And the Army. And the Navy. And Congress. And most respectable journalists around the world.

In fact, the single thing that has always been holding the human race back from world peace is the lack of any single focal point around which we could all unite. It suddenly occurs to me that we finally have it: No one in the history of humanity has ever been held in such universally low esteem by peoples from all races, creeds, and religions.

An epiphany is at hand! If we all realize that we all agree on our loathing of Geraldo, we'll realize that deep down we're all the same, that maybe far more unites us than seperates us. True peace on earth is now within our reach!
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:25 PM on January 28, 2002

To: The Pakistani Government
From: The US Government
Re: Daniel Pearl

You help get this fucking guy home alive, or you're off the Good Guy List faster than you can say "Islamabad".
posted by jpoulos at 1:29 PM on January 28, 2002

Forget emailing them to plead for a Geraldo kidnapping, let's all just add kidnapperguy to our MSN Messenger lists and startup a chat. I'm sure that would do it.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:31 PM on January 28, 2002

That poor guy. That's just awful. Kidnapping journalists doesn't do a damn thing. Look at Terry Anderson and others who have been kidnapped over time. The governments just let them suffer, and that's all they can do without bowing to the creepoids who do this.
Personally, it looks like the guys in Cuba are having a better time than they did in OBL's caves. 3 squares, time to pray, a prayer rug, and a bed. Not all bad.
posted by aacheson at 1:32 PM on January 28, 2002

I sure hope that guy's Hotmail account has a special bulk-email filter for "Random mail from thousands of people who saw your address in the newspaper. You crazy kidnapper, you."

Was it really such a good idea to publish the address? Then again, maybe the inumerable offers of mail-order diplomas, make money fast, free porn, and penis enlargment will soften the kidnapper's heart as he realizes the truly staggering generosity of the American people.
posted by whatnotever at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2002

here's some biography stuff from the wsj:
Mr. Pearl was in Karachi seeking to interview leaders of Islamic groups for possible articles on the war's impact on the region. He was accompanied to Karachi by his wife, Mariane, who is a French citizen. She is expecting the couple's first baby in May. The two met at a party in 1998, while Mr. Pearl was visiting friends in Paris for the weekend. Returning to the London office the Monday after, Mr. Pearl was asked by friends what he'd done over the weekend. "I went to Paris and fell in love," he replied. The two married in August 1999.

A veteran Journal reporter with a lively eye and a bent for stories that overturn conventional wisdom, Mr. Pearl has compiled a diverse body of work ranging from corporate to political to lifestyle stories. His arrival at the Journal's Atlanta bureau at the start of his career at the paper surprised many friends -- the laid-back amateur fiddler with a reputation for forgetfulness seemed an odd addition to a newspaper with a buttoned-down corporate image. Indeed, on one of his first assignments, for a front-page story about growing pains in a north Atlanta suburb, Mr. Pearl lost his notes in a phone booth and had to re-report the story from scratch.

His eye for the unconventional is also one reason he has excelled at the Journal. One of the first stories he wrote after becoming a Journal Middle East correspondent was a 1996 piece about the revival of "pearl-diving" songs in the Persian Gulf, along with the accompanying belief that singing the wailing spirituals can cause blindness. "American blues can make you sad," Mr. Pearl wrote from Doha, Qatar, in 1996. "Russian work songs can make you suffer. The fervent belief of many in the Persian Gulf is that pearl-diving songs can make you go blind."

In 1997, sent to Iran to cover the elections, Mr. Pearl returned to London instead with a story about the world's largest carpet, and a small town's search for someone to buy it. From Ben, Iran, he wrote: "This is a small town in search of a really big floor."

Shortly afterward, Mr. Pearl tackled the wrenching issue of the U.S. bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant in August 1998. "Some U.S. allies and Washington officials still doubt the U.S. hit a legitimate target, and the full truth of El Shifa, wrapped in the divisive politics of antiterrorism, may never be known," Mr. Pearl wrote. "The hardest evidence is a scoop of soil, taken near the plant and judged by the U.S. to contain a chemical used to make nerve gas. But other evidence becomes murkier the closer you look."

AIDS Coverage

Since his posting to Bombay, Mr. Pearl has focused extensively on access to low-priced generic medicine for poor countries with AIDS pandemics, and the ongoing battle with multinational drug companies seeking to protect their patents.

Mr. Pearl is experienced working in dangerous places and is known among his colleagues for his cautious approach to reporting and concern for safety. He took the lead among the Journal's overseas staff to draw up safety guidelines, and encouraged other reporters to check in repeatedly with editors.

According to a Reuters report from Islamabad Sunday, Pakistani police raised the possibility that the e-mail was a hoax. With digital technology available, the possibility of altering pictures always exists. However, other experts said the photos seemed genuine.

Before joining the Journal in 1990, Mr. Pearl was a reporter for several newspapers in Massachusetts. While working at the Berkshire Eagle, he won an American Planning Association Award for a five-part series on land use. Born in Princeton, N.J., Mr. Pearl graduated in 1985 from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in communications.

While in the Journal's Atlanta bureau, Mr. Pearl once received a letter from an outraged reader who accused him of receiving his journalism degree from a cereal box. Mr. Pearl kept the letter taped to the wall next to his desk.
he seems like a nice guy. i hope he's okay.
posted by kliuless at 2:12 PM on January 28, 2002

A little more back to topic, last month it was reported that the CIA was accused of spying while disguised as journalists. via Amy L.
posted by tsarfan at 2:13 PM on January 28, 2002

"Look at Terry Anderson and others who have been kidnapped.."

Well, provided Daniel Pearl survive this, his editor will no doubt get some great copy out of it. Larry King'll wanna interview him. It's the greatest prize for today's journalists: to become a part of the news instead of just exploiting it.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:15 PM on January 28, 2002

Dontcha think that's a little heartless and cavalier? A guy just got KIDNAPPED. He might die. He might be a prisioner for years. And some of you are treating it like a little weekend sortie or opportunity for a little publicity and cha-ching!
posted by aacheson at 3:33 PM on January 28, 2002

oh my god he's KIDNAPPED?!!??!
posted by techgnollogic at 3:43 PM on January 28, 2002

Well, techgnollogic, I thought people were losing sight of the gravity of the situation. Sorry if I offended you by USING CAPS.
posted by aacheson at 3:58 PM on January 28, 2002

I am praying that he is ok as well. I have a soft spot for journalists as it is, and just like this guy, my dad was a bureau chief (now executive) for WSJ for a long time (in Cleveland and Detroit, just slightly less hostile than Pakistan...) I haven't talked to him about it yet, but I know that that company is like a family, and I am sure that he and my dad know each other. It is a very sad thing, and to see your husband's or colleague's face plastered all over the Internet with a gun to your head.

I agree with aacheson. Not all journalists are story-seeking scum reminiscent of the chick from the Scream movies. These are people who have families and friends, who follow their passions for reporting, and yes, sometimes they come into harm's way. I doubt that this will be a little weekend sortie for him, and I seriously doubt that the prospects of sitting down with Larry King in the future is any fucking consolation to him or his family right now. Shit, sitting down with Larry King could be considered cruel and unusual enough....

I am praying for this guy's safe return, and I ain't even religious....
posted by adampsyche at 4:02 PM on January 28, 2002

I'm totally with adampsyche and aacheson on this. And I just want to reiterate, that how incredibly stupid and reckless it is to be suggesting emailing or messaging his captors. What if that were you father/brother/son/friend? Would you want electronet yahoos further provoking his kidnappers?

Just because you have someone's email address doesn't mean you should use it. Or do you like spam?
posted by emptyage at 4:49 PM on January 28, 2002

Hear, hear, Adampsyche.

Someone who's very near and dear to my heart (and if she travelled a little bit less or was based in the US, she might be my girlfriend) is covering news in the middle east as an international reporting internship. To think of her being kidnapped stabs a pick of terror right through me. Journalism was my original profession when I entered college, and it is a dangerous and completely underappreciated profession. It's so much easier to make fun of a reporter's reporting and to pick holes in it than it is to do it in the first place.

Quonsar, ZachsMind, MidasMulligan, eyeballkid, whatnotever, and techgnollogic --- Shame. That's about all I can think of to say.
posted by SpecialK at 4:49 PM on January 28, 2002

Kidnapping is a fairly common tactic among Islamic terrorists in South Asia. In Kashmir, Islamic terrorists of various colors and hues try to kidnap everyone from government officials to children of powerful people to European/American tourists. It is also not uncommon for them to kill the kidnapped people when their demands aren't met in order to get press.

As we have found through experience in India, it is disastrous if you give in to the demands of terrorists. You are damned if you give in and damned if you don't. Even if Mr. Pearl were not a nice guy, he doesnt deserve to go thru the physical,mental and sensory deprivations that a kidnapped person goes through.

Let's hope that his kidnappers are clumsy buffoons who get caught soon. Let us also hope that WSJ uses its considerable influence with the the current US administration to force them to make this a priority for the Pakistani Govt.
posted by justlooking at 6:45 PM on January 28, 2002

SpecialK ... shake your finger if you wish. Only please do remember that simply because you take something very personally and seriously, it doesn't necessarily mean everyone else universally ought to as well. I just visited your page ... very first thing I saw was:

"Hey, mister, I like your daughter..."
I woke up to that song on the radio this morning. It's the kind of dirty that makes you grin and daydream a little... kind of like some of Shirley Manson's songs."

Because of your tone I can tell this was meant in a joking fashion ... but I wonder if you can see how to some people it would be considered deeply offensive, might push a thousand and one buttons?

For what it's worth, sometimes joking around is a way of handling things. I know full well what it's like to feel threatened in foreign lands, as does my wife (who's gotten everything from strange looks in rural India to being outright stalked in Brazil). Both of our companies insist of training for their international businesspeople ... there are still places in this world where kidnapping is the least of the concerns ... it's the part where the kidnappers sell one into slavery that is the worrisome bit. Point is, the story of the WSJ reporter sends physical shivers up my spine. But whether I make joking offhand comments, or spend all my time wringing my hands will have absolutely zero to do with his return.

(I might add, however, in response to a couple of opinions above, that I hope the kidnapper's inbox is full - not only don't I think that will cause the kidnappers to act any differently towards him than they already intend to, but if they are stupid enough to spend an hour online reading a full inbox, it would offer quite a good opportunity to track the kidnappers ... as I'm absolutely certain several government agencies are sitting on the hotmail servers watching that mailbox like hawks, and just waiting to start the trace programs running ....
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:08 PM on January 28, 2002

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