The kidnappers who seized Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and held him hostage, killed him by cutting his throat, the videotape furnished by Pakistani police to the FBI shows.
The videotape, said The Washington Post, "shows Pearl speaking with someone, almost as if he were conducting an interview, when suddenly an unseen assailant takes a knife to his throat," according to a Pakistani source.
The tape was reportedly first delivered to a Pakistani journalist acting as an informer for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, a provincial government official and a police officer said in Karachi on Friday.
"The Pakistani journalist took some time to deliver the video to the US Consulate late on Thursday night," the Karachi-based official said, requesting anonymity.
He did not identify the journalist or who gave him the video. Earlier one of the chief investigators of Pearl's abduction said the Pakistani journalist was working as an informer for FBI officers.
"He was an informant for FBI agents," the investigator told AFP, requesting anonymity.
"It took him a while to get in contact with the Consulate in Karachi, where the video was eventually delivered by 10.30 pm (2300 IST) on Thursday night."
The tape includes no date, no audio, and no faces other than Pearl's, the source said.
The grisly footage of Pearl being executed was relayed to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, according to U.S. and Pakistani sources close to the investigation.
Pearl's body has not been found but authorities said they believe the videotape to be authentic.
The full scope of who was involved in the kidnapping has not been established. It is not known when he was killed or under what circumstances. Pakistani investigators had detained several suspects but in recent days appeared to be making little progress.
The three-minute video shows the hands of kidnappers, their faces off-screen, beheading the abducted 38-year-old reporter as he talks into the camera, the investigator said.
"The camera is focused on Pearl's face. Suddenly his head is chopped off," he said, adding that a "blunt weapon" was used.
The videotape showed at least two people taking part in the slaying but more could have been involved, he said, adding it was unclear from the tape when the slaying took place.
The FBI agents have been assisting Pakistan Police in their month-long hunt for Pearl and his abductors, according to US and Pakistan officials here
Pearl was kidnapped on January 23, after going to interview little known militant leader Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani as part of a story on the murky underworld of Islamic extremism in Pakistan in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks.
The kidnappers' trail went cold since the last of two e-mails was sent to news organisations last month, containing pictures of the reporter in chains with a gun pointed at his head.
His kidnappers demanded the release of Pakistani nationals among prisoners of the Afghan war held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and an improvement in the conditions of other captives.
Top US officials were adamant however that they would not bow to the demands even as authorities in Pakistan conducted a massive manhunt for Pearl and collected scraps of information.
"Both the United States and Pakistan are committed to identifying all the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice," Boucher added. Pearl's family released a statement saying "our worst fears have been realised. Up until a few hours ago, we were confident that Danny would return safely, for we believed no human being would be capable of harming such a gentle soul."
"Danny's senseless murder lies beyond our comprehension. Danny was a beloved son, a brother, an uncle, a husband and a father to a child who he will never know," the family said.
The Wall Street Journal said its staff was "heartbroken." "His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in," said Wall Street Journal publisher Peter Kann and the paper's managing editor Paul Steiger.
"They claimed to be Pakistani nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all Pakistani patriots." Pearl's murder will likely impose renewed pressure on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has been under intense pressure over the past two months to crack down on militant Islamic groups.
Musharraf said last week during a visit to Washington that he believed that Pearl may have been kidnapped in response to the crackdown. Bush publicly praised the Pakistani authorities for their efforts to find Pearl's kidnappers.
News of Pearl's death came hours after three men accused of sending e-mails containing photos of Pearl and threats to kill him appeared in a heavily guarded Pakistani court.
Fahad Naseem and Salman Saquib, cousins believed to be members of the outlawed extremist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, and a former police intelligence officer, Sheikh Adil, were remanded in custody by an anti-terrorism court on February 12.
A British-born Islamic militant known as Sheikh Omar, who is suspected of orchestrating the kidnapping, had earlier told a court that Pearl was dead. Naseem told the court Thursday that Saquib took him to meet Omar two days before Pearl's abduction.
"Omar told me they would kidnap a person who is a Jew and anti-Islam," Naseem said, according to a copy of his court statement. Investigators believe up to 10 people were involved in abducting Pearl, who disappeared after heading off to interview a little known Islamic militant leader for a story on Muslim extremists.
(with PTI and AFP inputs from Karachi and Washington)