Daniel Pearl PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 07:38

Born: October 10, 1963 Princeton, New Jersey

Died: February 1, 2002 Karachi, Pakistan

Age: 38

Cause of death: Beheaded

Notable because: Israeli passport holder whose  torture and death serves as a graphic illustration of the divisions that exist between the ways of the Prophet and the emergence of human rights.

Daniel Pearl was an American journalist who was kidnapped and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan. At the time of his kidnapping, Pearl served as the South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, stationed in Mumbai, India, and had been investigating the case of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and alleged links between Al Qaeda and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for which he went to Pakistan, and was subsequently beheaded there.

In July 2002, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin, was sentenced to death by hanging for Pearl's abduction and murder.

In March 2007, at a closed military hearing in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that he had personally beheaded Pearl.

Daniel Pearl was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and grew up in the Encino district of Los Angeles, California, where he attended Portola Middle School and Birmingham High School. His father, Judea Pearl, is a professor at UCLA. His mother Ruth, is of Iraqi Jewish descent. The history of the family and its connections to Israel are described by Judea Pearl in a book by Alan Dershowitz, What Israel Means to Me. Danny, as he was known throughout his life, attended Stanford University from 1981 to 1985, where he stood out as a communications major with Phi Beta Kappa honors, a member of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity, and co-founded a student newspaper called the Stanford Commentator. Pearl graduated Stanford with a B.A. in Communications, after which he spent a summer as a Pulliam Fellow intern at the Indianapolis Star and a winter bussing tables as a ski bum in Idaho. Following a trip to the then-Soviet Union, China, and Europe, he joined the North Adams Transcript and the Berkshire Eagle in western Massachusetts, then moved on to the San Francisco Business Times.

Pearl began at the Wall Street Journal's Atlanta bureau in 1990, moving to the Washington, D.C., bureau in 1993 to cover telecommunications. He jumped to the Journal's London bureau in 1996, writing articles such as the October 1994 story of a Stradivarius violin allegedly found on a highway on-ramp, and a June 2000 story about Iranian pop music. His most notable investigations covered the ethnic wars in the Balkans, where he discovered that charges of one alleged genocide committed in Kosovo were unsubstantiated, and the American missile attack on a supposed military facility in Khartoum, which he proved to be a pharmaceutical factory.

Later, he met and married Mariane Van Neyenhoff. She is a Buddhist, and is a member of the Soka Gakkai International. Their son, Adam Daniel Pearl, was born in Paris on May 28, 2002, three months after Pearl's death.

On January 23, 2002, on his way to what he thought was an interview with Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani at the Village restaurant in Karachi, Pearl was kidnapped by a militant group calling itself The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. This group claimed Pearl was a CIA agent and — using a Hotmail e-mail address  — sent the United States a range of demands, including the freeing of all Pakistani terror detainees, and the release of a halted U.S. shipment of F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government.

The message read:
“     "We give you one more day if America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan."     ”

Photos of Pearl handcuffed with a gun at his head and holding up a newspaper were attached. There was no response to pleas from Pearl's editor, nor from his wife Mariane.

Nine days later, Pearl was murdered and beheaded. Pearl's body was found cut into ten pieces and buried in a shallow grave in the outskirts of Karachi on May 16. When the police found his remains, Abdul Sattar Edhi arrived promptly on the scene, personally collected all 10 body parts, and took them to the morgue. Pearl's body was returned to the United States and was interred in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

No autopsy was performed. The subsequent video (see next section) made the sequence of events clear.

Daniel Pearl stating his identity in the video produced by his murderers.

On February 21, 2002, a videotape titled The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl, was released. The video shows Pearl's mutilated body and lasts three minutes and 36 seconds.

On the image to the right, the text in Arabic reads: "My name is (Daniel Pearl), I am a Jewish-American..." The English transcript of the text reads [sic]:

    * "My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California USA."
    * "I come from, uh, on my father's side the family is Zionist."
    * "My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish."
    * "My family follows Judaism. We've made numerous family visits to Israel."
    * "Back in the town of Bnei Brak there is a street named after my great grandfather Chaim Pearl who is one of the founders of the town."

According to Pearl's father, the fact revealed in the last sentence was not known outside the immediate family and, therefore, could not have been extracted from him by force. Pearl's father believes that his son chose to reveal it as a coded message to his family, that he was doing well and speaking freely in his own words.

The second part of the video shows Pearl stating his captors' demands. A caption in Urdu is shown along the way. Pictures of dead Muslims and similar scenes are superimposed around the image of Pearl. Other images shown are those of United States President George W. Bush shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and those of Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Dura, of whose death the Israeli Defence Force has been accused.

In the video, Pearl's body is shown naked from the waist up with his throat slit at about one minute and 55 seconds into the video, by which time he would have bled to death. A man then decapitates Pearl.

A few more images, such as captives held at Guantánamo Bay detention camp, are shown near the image of Pearl's head. The last 90 seconds of the video show the list of demands scrolling, superimposed on an image of Pearl's severed head being held by the hair.

The English transcript of the text reads [sic]:


    We still demand the following:

    * The immediate release of U.S. held prisoners in Guantinamo Bay, Cuba.
    * The return of Pakistani prisoners to Pakistan.
    * The immediate end of U.S. presence in Pakistan.
    * The delivery of F-16 planes that pakistan had paid for and never recieved.

    We asure Americans that they shall never be safe on the Muslim Land of Pakistan.

    And if our demands are not met this scene shall be repeated again and again...

The video made its way to the Pakistani and United States governments. A jihadist site leaked the video onto the Internet. In April 2002, Dan Rather reported on CBS that the video was used extensively as a recruiting tool by terrorists in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Three suspects were caught after the IP address of those who sent the ransom e-mail was traced by the Karachi Police. The arrests were carried out after investigation by Pakistani detective Mir Zubair Mahmood, assisted by Pakistan CIA computer experts. The mastermind of the kidnapping, Ahmed Saeed Omar Sheikh, surrendered to a former ISI officer, Brig Aijaz Shah, who concealed Sheikh's whereabout from the Karachi Police for a whole week.

His father worried at the time that Pearl's Israeli citizenship would have an adverse effect on the investigation. On March 21, 2002, in Pakistan, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other suspects were charged with murder for their part in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl. They were convicted on July 15, 2002, and Sheikh was sentenced to death. Sheikh has appealed the sentence, but hearings in his case were postponed repeatedly — over 30 times — and no definitive date had been set.

On March 10, 2007, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged Al Qaeda operative reported to be third in command under Osama Bin Laden, claimed responsibility, before his Combatant Status Review Tribunal, for the murder of Daniel Pearl. He claimed to have beheaded him, but did not specify whether he had cut his throat before cutting off his head (Zarqawi-fashion) or cut off his head from the back with a sword or axe, as decapitations were done for millennia and are still done in Saudi Arabia. In a confession read during his Tribunal hearing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is on record repeating:
“     I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the City of Karachi, Pakistan.     ”

This confession repeated, word for word, the phrasing leaked, in 2002, from his controversial interrogation in a clandestine CIA interrogation center.

On March 19, 2007, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh's lawyers cited Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confession in defense of their client. They said they had always acknowledged that their client played a role in Pearl's murder, but they had always argued that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the actual murderer. They plan for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confession to play a central role in their appeal of their client's death sentence.

In his book In the Line of Fire, then-President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf stated that Pearl was murdered by an agent of MI6, who at some point became a double agent.

A collection of Pearl's writings (At Home in the World) was published posthumously in 2002 demonstrating his "extraordinary skill as a writer" and his "eye for quirky stories -- many of which appeared in The Wall Street Journal's "middle column". Six of these stories were adapted by composer Russell Steinberg into an album: Stories from My Favorite Planet, a trio for violin, piano and reader.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation was formed by Pearl's family and friends to continue Pearl's mission and to address what they consider the root causes of his death, in the spirit, style, and principles that shaped Pearl's work and character.[19]Daniel Pearl World Music Days have been held worldwide since 2002, and have promoted over 1500 concerts in over 60 countries.

Pearl's widow, Mariane Pearl, wrote the memoir A Mighty Heart, which tells the full story of Pearl and more about his life. The book was adapted into a film starring Angelina Jolie and Dan Futterman.

On September 1, 2003, a book titled Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, written by Bernard-Henri Lévy was published. The book, which the author characterized as an "investigative novel", stirred controversy for some of its speculative conclusions about the killing, and for some of its characterizations of Pakistan, and for the author's decision to engage in an exercise of fictionalizing Pearl's thoughts in the final moments of his life. Lévy was criticized for the book. This book is being adapted into a film directed by Tod Williams and starring Josh Lucas, focusing on the last few days of Daniel Pearl's life.

HBO Films produced a 79-minute documentary titled The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl. It premiered on HBO on October 10, 2006. The documentary chronicles Pearl's life and death, and features extensive interviews with his immediate family. It is narrated by Christiane Amanpour, and was nominated for two Emmy Awards.

American modernist composer Steve Reich wrote his 2006 work The Daniel Variations which interweaves Pearl's own words with verses from the Book of Daniel.

Pearl's parents, Judea and Ruth, edited and published a collection of responses sent to them from around the globe, entitled I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004). At one point on the video, Pearl said "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish," after which Pearl added one obscure detail, that a street in Israel's Bene Barak is named after his great grandfather, who was one of the founders of the town. The family has written that they understand this last detail authenticates his own voice and demonstrates his willingness to claim his identity. Judea Pearl has written that at first, this statement surprised him but he later understood it to be a reference to the town-building tradition of his family contrasted with the destructive aims of his captors. Judea Pearl then enlarged the idea by inviting responses from artists, government leaders, authors, journalists, scientists, scholars, rabbis and others. All wrote personal responses to what they thought upon hearing that these were Pearl's last words. Some responses are one sentence, others several pages.

The book is organized by five themes: Identity; Heritage; Covenant, Chosenness, and Faith; Humanity and Ethnicity; Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) and Justice. Contributors include Theodore Bikel, Alan Dershowitz, Kirk Douglas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Larry King, Amos Oz, Shimon Peres, Daniel Schorr, Elie Wiesel, Peter Yarrow, and A.B. Yehoshua.

In 2002, Pearl posthumously received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award from Colby College and in 2007, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award from the Houston Holocaust Museum.

In 2005, The Wall Street Journal, in conjunction with the Ecole de Journalisme de Sciences Po, gave the first Daniel Pearl Prize to Louis-Etienne Vigneault-Dubois from Canada, at a ceremony held on June 10th in Paris.

On April 16, 2007, Pearl was added to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach as the first non-Holocaust victim. His father, Judea Pearl, gave his consent for the induction in order to remind generations to come that "The forces of barbarity and evil are still active in our world. The Holocaust didn't finish in 1945." Journalist Bradley Burston criticized the addition of a post-Holocaust victim to the memorial, saying it diminishes the uniqueness of the Holocaust.

In May 2007, the Communications Technology Magnet School at Birmingham High School was renamed the Daniel Pearl Journalism and Communications Magnet.

Shortly after his death, Pearl's parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl, founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation. The foundation's mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music, and dialogue. Its programs include: World Music Days which uses the power of music to promote tolerance and inspire respect for differences; PEARL World Youth News which provides an online journalist certification course for High School Students; Annual Daniel Pearl Journalism and Editorial Fellowships which brings mid-career foreign journalists and editors to work for six months in a US newsroom; the Daniel Pearl Media Internship Program which provides media internships to young Israelis and Palestinians who have attended a peace camp; and The Daniel Pearl Dialogues for Muslim-Jewish Understanding, a traveling public dialogue in which professors Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed discuss Muslim-Jewish relationships.

The honorary board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation includes Christiane Amanpour, former President Bill Clinton, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Danny Gill, John Hennessy, Ted Koppel, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, Sari Nusseibeh, Mariane Pearl, Itzhak Perlman, Harold Schulweiss, Craig Sherman, Paul Steiger, and Elie Wiesel.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 February 2009 07:44

Add comment

Security code

Who's Online

We have 24 guests online