Daniel Pearl was the American Wall Street Journal
journalist who was kidnapped a on 21st January 2002 by Islamic Extremists
, the previously unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty
. Based in Bombay
, the 38 year old was on assignment in Pakistan
covering the war in Afghanistan
and was apparently kidnapped on his way to meet an Islamic Fundamentalist
His captors accused Pearl of being a spy, first for the CIA, then for Israel's Mossad, and threatened to kill him if its demands were not met. One demand was for Pakistani terror suspects held by US authorities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be returned to Pakistan for trial. Friends and co-workers dismissed as absurd the idea that he would be involved in espionage.
Despite frantic efforts to find Daniel by the Pakistani authorities, and the arrests of several key suspects, two days ago Daniel Pearlman was confirmed dead.
A videotape containing grisly footage of Pearl being executed was delivered to authorities in Pakistan and relayed to the US consulate in Karachi. The videotape 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 includes no date, no audio and no faces other than Pearl's, the source said. A man claiming to be a journalist delivered the tape to police in Sindh province, according to a US source.
Daniel Pearl was only doing his job, admittedly in potentially dangerous circumstances, but to murder him, and in such a barbaric way, by supposedly religious people just makes me sick. I don't know how long you maintain consciousness after you have your throat slit, but I keep thinking about it, wondering how long he lay there knowing that his life was quickly slipping
away. Maybe the few seconds before, he had hope of eventually being set free. Daniel leaves behind him a heavily pregnant wife who even offered to take his place as a captive. Our thoughts must be with her, and all of his family and close friends.
Daniel Pearl was born on 10th October 1963, in Princeton, New Jersey. He worked for newspapers in western Massachusetts after graduating from Stanford University in 1985, and was known as a quietly tenacious reporter with a passion for journalism and a relentless curiosity.
Pearl was "the kind of a reporter who always had another phone call to make," said Lewis Cuyler, his one-time editor at The Berkshire Eagle, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He called Pearl a "brilliant, gifted reporter."
After a brief stint at the San Francisco Chronicle, he joined The Wall Street Journal in 1990. He spent three years in Atlanta, then moved to Washington DC in 1993 where he covered transportation. He then moved to London in 1996 and to Paris in February 1998.
It was there that he met his wife, Mariane, a French freelance journalist. She and Pearl often worked as a team and she would have gone with him to the January 23rd rendezvous had she not been feeling sick.
Cuyler, who retired in 1995 as the Eagle's business editor, recalled Pearl as "quiet, a very good listener. All of a sudden he'd have a zinger question, there wasn't any bombast, like some reporters use."
Pearl was 24 when he joined the Eagle, a 31,000-circulation daily. "He had written some good stories, and showed a lot of promise, and certainly made good on that promise," Cuyler said.
Then single, Pearl played fiddle, bass and keyboard in a folk-rock band. But his journalistic ambitions were clear.
"He did have aspirations to cover a larger territory than Berkshire County in Massachusetts. He admired the Journal, The New York Times, the big newspapers, but there was never, 'I have to go here,'" Cuyler said.
Dusty Bahlman, who worked with Pearl at the Eagle, told The Boston Globe that Pearl was unflappable.
"He would not give up on a story after just a couple of sources, he would hit every angle. That's what I find very telling, he went off with people that he knew not at all or only slightly to meet with a source."
Glenn Drohan, one of Pearl's former editors at the Eagle, told the Globe: "I remember he had this sort of laid-back, sleepy-eyed California look, but he asked some of the toughest questions our local politicians had seen. But what made him such a fantastic reporter is that people are genuinely interesting to him."
I hope Daniel Pearl's body is found so he can be laid to rest properly.