Daniel Pearl

From Academic Kids

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Daniel Pearl

Daniel Pearl (October 10, 1963January 29/30, 2002) was a journalist, an American-Israeli dual citizen. He was kidnapped and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan, while investigating the case of convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid.


His life

Daniel Pearl was born in Princeton, New Jersey and grew up in Encino in southern California where he went to Portola Middle School. His father, Judea Pearl, was a professor at UCLA. He attended Stanford University from 1981 to 1985, where he stood out as a communication major with Phi Beta Kappa honors and co-founded a student newspaper called the Stanford Commentary. Daniel 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. He moved on to the San Francisco Business Times before being hired by the Wall Street Journal in 1990.

Daniel started in the Journal's Atlanta bureau and moved to the Washington bureau in 1993 to cover telecommunications. He jumped to the Journal's London bureau in 1996 as a Middle East correspondent, before meeting his wife-to-be Mariane in 1998 and resettling in Paris. The two were married in 1999. The couple relocated to Mumbai, India in 2000, where Daniel became the Journal's South Asia bureau chief, his job at the time of his kidnapping. He was best known for writing "A-heads", colorful and unusual feature articles printed down the middle of the Journal’s front page—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 death

On January 23, 2002, on his way to an interview with a supposed terrorist leader, Pearl was kidnapped by a militant group calling itself The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. This group claimed Pearl was a spy, and -- using the e-mail address kidnapperguy@hotmail.com -- 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 u 1 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, and from his wife Marianne who was pregnant with their first child. Six days later, Pearl's throat was slit. The men later severed his head. Pearl's body was found in a shallow grave in the outskirts of Karachi on May 16.

The Daniel Pearl video

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Daniel Pearl, in the "The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl" video

On February 21, a videotape of his murder, titled, "The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl" was released. The video lasts for about three minutes and thirty-six seconds.

The first part of the video shows Pearl stating the demands that his captors want. A caption in Urdu is shown along the way. Pictures of dead Muslims and other scenes of what the captors believe are oppression are shown 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. Pearl never says on the video that he is a spy for Israel.

Published reports say that a technical error prevents the first slashing of Pearl's throat from being captured on film. In the video, Pearl's body is shown naked from the waist up with his throat slit at about 1 minute and 55 seconds into the video. A man then cuts his head off. A few more images, such as captives held at Guantanamo Bay, 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]1:

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 received.
We assure 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.


Three suspects were caught after the e-mail addresses that sent the ransom e-mail were traced by the FBI.

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 killing of Daniel Pearl. They were convicted on July 15, 2002. During the trial, Sheikh -- mastermind of the kidnapping -- told investigators he had kidnapped Pearl to "strike a blow at the United States and embarrass the Pakistani government." Another of the suspects said Pearl had been targeted "because he was a Jew working against Islam."

The US Government believes that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed conspired in the kidnapping.


After Pearl's kidnapping his relatives tried to hide his dual US-Israeli citizenship, which was finally leaked by the Israeli Haaretz newspaper. Conspiracy theorists allege Daniel Pearl was an Israeli secret agent who infiltrated the Al-Qaida network and he was beheaded by militants for betraying Osama bin Laden.


A collection of Pearl's writings was published posthumously later in 2002.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation was created to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music, and innovative communications. Daniel Pearl Music Days were held worldwide in 2002 and from October 7-9, 2003.

See also

Further reading

  • Levy, Bernard Henri, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, Melville House Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0971865949
  • Pearl, Daniel, At Home in the World: Collected Writings from the Wall Street Journal, New York: Free Press, June 2002. ISBN 074324317X
  • Pearl, Mariane, and Sarah Crichton, A Mighty Heart, New York: Scribner, 2003. ISBN 0743244427
  • I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl, Ruth & Judea Pearl, eds., Jewish Lights Pub., January 2004. ISBN 1580231837

External links

Video of Pearl Beheading

This video contains graphic violence which may be offensive and/or disturbing to some viewers.

de:Daniel Pearl he:דניאל פרל


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