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Daniel Pearl

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Title: Daniel Pearl  
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Subject: Judea Pearl, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Indian Airlines Flight 814, 2002, Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act
Collection: 1963 Births, 2002 Deaths, American Expatriates in India, American Expatriates in the United Kingdom, American Jews, American Journalists of Asian Descent, American Journalists of Jewish Descent, American People Murdered Abroad, American People of Iraqi-Jewish Descent, American People of Israeli Descent, American Terrorism Victims, Antisemitic Attacks and Incidents, Antisemitism in Pakistan, Assassinated American Journalists, Burials at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award Recipients, Filmed Deaths, Foreign Hostages in Pakistan, Indianapolis Star People, Islam and Antisemitism, Islamism-Related Beheadings, Jewish Martyrs, Journalists from California, Journalists from New Jersey, Journalists Killed in Pakistan, Journalists Who Died as a Result of Terrorism, Kidnapped American People, Mizrahi Jews, Murder in 2002, Pakistan–united States Relations, People from Princeton, New Jersey, People Murdered in Pakistan, Stanford University Alumni, Terrorism Deaths in Pakistan, The Wall Street Journal People, Writers from Los Angeles, California
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Daniel Pearl

Daniel Pearl
Born (1963-10-10)October 10, 1963
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Died February 1, 2002(2002-02-01) (aged 38)
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Cause of death Murder by decapitation
Body discovered May 16, 2002
Resting place Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Residence Washington, D.C., U.S.
Nationality Israeli, American
Other names Danny
Ethnicity Jewish
Citizenship Israel, United States
Education B.A. in Communication
Alma mater Stanford University
Occupation Journalist
Employer The Wall Street Journal
Known for Wall Street journalism
Home town Encino, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Title South Asia Bureau Chief
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Mariane Pearl (1999–2002; his death)
Children Adam Daniel Pearl, born May 28, 2002
Parent(s) Judea Pearl (father) and Ruth Pearl (mother)
Relatives Michelle and Tamara (sisters)

Daniel Pearl (October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002) was a journalist with American and Israeli citizenship. He was kidnapped by Pakistani militants and later murdered in Pakistan.[1][2][3]

Pearl was kidnapped while working as the South Asia Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, based in Mumbai, India. He had gone to Pakistan as part of an investigation into the alleged links between Richard Reid (the "shoe bomber") and Al-Qaeda. He was subsequently killed by his captors.[4][5]

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.[1][6] In March 2007, at a closed military hearing in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed stated that he had personally beheaded Pearl.[2][7][8] Al-Qaeda member Saif al-Adel has also been connected with the kidnapping.[3]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Abduction 2
    • Death 2.1
  • Video of his murder 3
  • Arrests 4
  • Aftermath 5
  • Posthumous recognition 6
    • Institutions and awards in Pearl's name 6.1
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early life and education

Pearl was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and grew up in the upscale Encino district of Los Angeles, California, where he attended Portola Junior High School and Birmingham High School.[9] His father, Judea Pearl, is currently a professor of Computer Science and Statistics, director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at UCLA, and a Turing Award recipient.[10][11] His mother Ruth is of Iraqi Jewish descent. The history of the family and its connections to Israel are described by Judea Pearl in the LA Times article, "Roots in the Holy Land".[12]

Danny, as he was known throughout his life, attended Stanford University from 1981 to 1985, where he stood out as a Communication major with Phi Beta Kappa honors, a member of the Alpha Delta Phi Society, a co-founder of a student newspaper called the Stanford Commentator, as well as a reporter for the campus radio station, KZSU. Pearl graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in Communication, after which he spent a summer as a Pulliam Fellow intern at The Indianapolis Star. 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, and then to the London bureau in 1996. He wrote articles such as the October 1994 story of a Stradivarius violin allegedly found on a highway on-ramp,[13] 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 an 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. Their son, Adam Daniel Pearl, was born in Paris, France on May 28, 2002, almost four months after Pearl's death.


On January 23, 2002, on his way to what he thought was an interview with Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani (now a suspect in the conspiracy to abduct him) at the Village Restaurant in downtown Karachi, Pearl was kidnapped near the Metropole Hotel at 7:00 p.m. by a militant group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty.[14]

The group claimed Pearl was a spy and—using a Hotmail e-mail address[15]—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 decapitated. On May 16, his severed head and decomposed body were found cut into ten pieces, and buried, along with an identifying jacket, in a shallow grave at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

Video of his murder

Daniel Pearl stating his identity in the video produced by his captors. The text reads Arabic: اسمی دانیال بیرل، انا یھودی امریکی‎ English: My name is Daniel Pearl, I am an American Jew

On February 21, 2002, a videotape was released titled The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl. The video shows Pearl's mutilated body, and lasts 3 minutes and 36 seconds.

During the video, Pearl said:

My name is Daniel Pearl. I'm 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.[18]

In addition, Pearl was required to condemn American foreign policy. However, his parents have stated that this was propaganda, and that Pearl was in fact "a proud American, and he abhorred extremist ideologies." The family also listed some signals from Pearl in the video which shows he disagreed with what he was forced to say.[18]

Following these statements, Pearl's throat was slit, and his head was severed.[19]

The ending of the video concludes with the captors demanding the release of all Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and warns that if their demands are not met, they would repeat the scene "again and again."[20]


Pearl's father expressed concern in February 2002 that his son's Israeli citizenship would have an adverse effect on the investigation.[21]

Three suspects were caught after the IP address of those who sent the ransom e-mail was traced by the police in Karachi. The arrests were carried out after investigation by Pakistani detective Mir Zubair Mahmood, assisted by an FBI computer expert.[22] The mastermind of the kidnapping, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, surrendered to a former ISI officer, Brig. Ijaz Shah, who concealed Sheikh's whereabouts from the Karachi police for a week. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh had been in an Indian prison in connection with 1994 Kidnappings of Western tourists in India, and had been freed by the Indian government in exchange for passengers aboard hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 in December 1999.

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 over 30 times, and no definitive date had been set.

In his book In the Line of Fire, then-President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf stated that Sheikh was an agent of MI6, who at some point became a double agent.[23]

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.[24] In a confession read during his Tribunal hearing, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan.[25] " This confession repeated word for word the phrasing leaked in 2002 from his interrogation in a clandestine CIA interrogation center.[26]

On March 19, 2007, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh's lawyers cited Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confession in defense of their client.[25][27] 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.

According to an investigative report published in January 2011 by Federal Bureau of Investigation used vein matching to determine that the perpetrator in the video of the killing of Pearl was most likely Mohammed, notably through a "bulging vein" running across his hand.[28] Federal officials had been concerned that the confession obtained though waterboarding would not hold up in court and used this forensic technique to bolster their case.[29]

It was announced on March 19, 2013, that a suspect was captured in connection with the murder and was in police custody. Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations Directorate confirmed the arrest by a paramilitary unit known as the Pakistan Rangers.[30]


A collection of Pearl's writings (At Home in the World)[31] 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".[32]

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.[33] Daniel Pearl World Music Days[34] has been held worldwide since 2002, and has promoted over 1,500 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.[35] The book was adapted into a film starring Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl, Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, Irfan Khan, Archie Panjabi, and Will Patton.[36]

On September 1, 2003, a book titled Who Killed Daniel Pearl?[37] was published, written by Bernard-Henri Lévy.[38] The book, which the author characterized as an "investigative novel", stirred controversy for some of its speculative conclusions about the killing, 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.[39][40][41][42] 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.[43]

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.

Pearl's parents 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[44] (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 Bnei Brak is named after his great grandfather, who was one of the founders of the town.[45] The family has written that it understands this last detail authenticates Daniel's 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 were one sentence while others were 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.

Posthumous recognition

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.

American minimalist composer Steve Reich wrote his 2006 work Daniel Variations, jointly commissioned by the Daniel Pearl Foundation and the Barbican Centre, which interweaves Pearl's own words with verses from the Book of Daniel.[46]

On April 16, 2007, Pearl was added to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach as the first non-Holocaust victim. His father 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."[47] Journalist Bradley Burston criticized the addition of a post-Holocaust victim to the memorial, saying "it diminishes the uniqueness of the Holocaust".[48]

In 2010, the International Press Institute named Pearl one of its World Press Freedom Heroes.[49]

On December 10, 2007, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush invited Ruth and Judea Pearl, parents of Daniel Pearl to the White House Chanukah reception, to light the menorah[50] that once belonged to Daniel's great grandparents, Chaim and Rosa Pearl, who brought it with them when they moved from Poland to Israel in 1924 to establish the town of Bnai-Brak.

The late former mayor of New York City Ed Koch had his own tombstone inscribed with Pearl's words: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish."[51]

Institutions and awards in Pearl's name

Shortly after Pearl's death, his parents founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation. The foundation's mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music, and dialogue. The honorary board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation includes Christiane Amanpour, former President Bill Clinton, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Danny Gill, John L. Hennessy, Ted Koppel, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, Sari Nusseibeh, Mariane Pearl, Itzhak Perlman, Harold Schulweiss, Craig Sherman, Paul Steiger, and Elie Wiesel.

The Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA was established by the foundation in 2002. Christopher Hitchens delivered a lecture on March 3, 2010. Other lecturers have included Anderson Cooper; David Brooks; Ted Koppel; Larry King; Jeff Greenfield; Daniel Schorr and Thomas Friedman.[52][53] Soka University of America's student news magazine, titled the Pearl, is named in honor of Daniel Pearl.

On May 19, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which protects U.S. journalists around the world. The act is also designed to use tools from the Secretary of State to ensure that freedom of press is upheld in other countries.

  • Institutions named for Pearl:
    • The Sammy Ofer School of Communications at IDC Herzliya introduced the Daniel Pearl International Journalism Institute (DPIJI),[54] a new partnership between IDC Herzliya and the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

The multimedia newsroom at IDC’s School of Communications will be named in honor of Daniel Pearl. The high-tech newsroom will provide journalists at the Institute and the visiting press community with the resources and equipment they need to write and produce top-quality journalistic work for both local and foreign audiences.

  • Awards
    • In 2005, The Wall Street Journal, in conjunction with the École de Journalisme de Sciences Po, gave the first Daniel Pearl Prize to Louis-Étienne Vigneault-Dubois from Canada, at a ceremony held on June 10 in Paris.[55]
    • In western Massachusetts, with help from the newspapers there for which Pearl worked early in his career (the North Adams Transcript and the Berkshire Eagle), friends of Pearl established the Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship, awarded annually beginning in 2003.
    • Since 2003, Stanford's Department of Communication has awarded a paid summer internship with The Wall Street Journal, known as the "Daniel Pearl Journalism Internship."[56]
    • In 2008 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists' bi-annual ICIJ awards were renamed the Daniel Pearl Awards for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting.[57]
    • The Samuel Eells Litterary and Educational Foundation annually awards the Brother Daniel Pearl Stanford 85' Award for Literary Excellence to one undergraduate member of the Alpha Delta Phi Society or Fraternity who has displayed exceptional skill and enthusiasm for the literary arts in the fields of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, music and lyrics, photography or film and who has contributed to our litterary heritage.
  • Schools named for Pearl:

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ UCLA Cognitive Systems Laboratory (Experimental) Index: Judea Pearl - Home Access date: February 12, 2010.
  12. ^ Pearl, Judea, "Roots in the Holy Land", Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2008.
  13. ^ Pearl, Daniel. Stradivarius Violin, Lost Years Ago, Resurfaces but New Owner Plays Coy. The Wall Street Journal Archive: October 17, 1994.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ McCarthy, Rory. "Pakistan holds three as net closes on US reporter's kidnappers". Guardian February 6, 2002.
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b Unkovic, Alexis. "Militant convicted of Pearl killing to rely on KSM Guantanamo confession on appeal". The Jurist. March 3, 2007. Access date: March 20, 2007
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ Pearl, Daniel. At Home in the World: Collected Writings from the Wall Street Journal. New York: Free Press, June 2002. ISBN 0-7432-4317-X.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Pearl, Mariane, and Sarah Crichton. A Mighty Heart. New York: Scribner, 2003. ISBN 0-7432-4442-7. Access date: 2007-03-20.
  36. ^ with appearances by Alyy Khan and Zafar Karachiwala
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ Pearl, Ruth & Judea, eds. I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl. Jewish Lights Pub., January 2004. ISBN 1-58023-183-7.
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ Burston, Bradley. "Holocaust denial begins at home". Haaretz April 17, 2007.
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ Cynthia Lee,"Christopher Hitchens decries anti-Semitism in lecture at UCLA", UCLA newsroom, March 4, 2010
  53. ^ ,"The Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture Series", UCLA
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  • – 'Fahad Naseem, one of the three militants accused of kidnapping Pearl, told a judge in Karachi yesterday that Pearl was kidnapped because he was "a Jew and is working against Islam."'
  • – 'The intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that information from American intelligence agencies helped Pakistani investigators track down the ring involved in the plot. Information from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Al Qaeda's former head of operations who was captured in March 2002, aided the investigation, he said. American officials say they believe that Mr. Mohammed was the person who actually killed Mr. Pearl.'

Further reading

  • Lévy, Bernard-Henri, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, Melville House Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-9718659-4-9
  • Pearl, Daniel, At Home in the World: Collected Writings from the Wall Street Journal, New York: Free Press, June 2002. ISBN 0-7432-4317-X
  • Pearl, Mariane, and Sarah Crichton, A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl, New York: Scribner, 2003. ISBN 0-7432-4442-7
  • Pearl, Ruth and Judea, eds. I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl. Jewish Lights Pub., January 2004. ISBN 1-58023-183-7.

External links

  • The Daniel Pearl Foundation
  • Rewards for Justice Daniel Pearl Page
  • South Asian Journalists Association Roundup
  • Wall Street Journal selection of stories by Daniel Pearl
  • Daniel Pearl International Journalism Institute, IDC Herzliya
  • Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship
  • DANIEL PEARL AWARD - Ecole de journalisme de Sciences Po
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