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"I am a Jew": 20 years since the abduction and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl Israel today


On January 23, 2002, Pearl was abducted in Karachi by a group calling itself the "Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty". "I come from a Zionist family. My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish. My family follows the ways of Judaism."

Exactly today 20 years ago, on January 23, 2002, the American-Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl was abducted in Karachi, Pakistan.

Pearl, who at the time served as chief executive of the Wall Street Journal of the Central Asia branch of the American newspaper, conducted an investigation into British terrorist Richard Reed, who was convicted of attempting to blow up a passenger plane with explosives planted in his shoes.

On his way to the interview, Pearl was abducted by a group calling itself the "Pakistan Sovereign Rehabilitation Movement," which claimed Pearl was a spy.

The hijackers sent a series of demands to the US, including a demand for the release of all Pakistanis imprisoned during the US-led campaign against terrorism.

Another demand was to allow the shipment of F-16 fighter jets purchased for the Pakistan Air Force - a deal suspended due to US sanctions due to Pakistan's nuclear weapons development plan.

The kidnappers tore the nerves of the family in every way - released pictures of him from captivity, asked for ransom - and the whole world mobilized to try to free him.

His wife Marian, who was then pregnant with their eldest son Adam (a name chosen by Daniel himself two days before his abduction), turned to the kidnappers and asked that they take her in his place.

Jewish-American journalist Daniel Pearl in captivity, Photo: EP

A month later, the truth became clear: just a few days after he was abducted, Pearl was executed by his captors, when his head was beheaded by Khaled Sheikh Muhammad - a former senior al-Qaeda operative who is considered the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

As early as 2007, Khaled admitted that he was personally the one who beheaded Pearl, but at the time his American investigators did not believe him, believing that the man only wanted to brag after he had claimed many murders.

In 2012, researchers from Georgetown University in Washington were able to find a match between the veins in Khaled's hand and the hand seen on the videotape documenting Pearl's murder.

The comparison shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that the killer's hand on the tape is Khaled's.

Admitted murder.

Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, Photo: AFP

The report also drew criticism against the Pakistani authorities, who were involved in the failure of the Pearl murder investigation. According to the report's findings, the Pakistani authorities released a guard who was one of the important sources and had information that could have led earlier to those responsible.

The trouble that shook the world

Even before he was killed, Pearl was forced to make a videotaped statement, which the terrorists later circulated to the press.

In the film, Pearl introduced himself as a Jew: "My name is Daniel Pearl, I am an American Jew from California. I come from a Zionist family. My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish. My family follows Jewish ways."

In his book "Who Murdered Daniel Pearl?", The French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy claimed that the journalist was murdered by the Pakistan Secret Service, after an investigation threatened to reveal their connection to al-Qaeda, and the operation of the British terrorist Richard Reed.

"This is of course my hypothesis," Sage Levy said during his visit to Jerusalem two years after the assassination, "but the question of whether there is information and technology transfer between Pakistan and Kabul and Tora-Bora is in my view the reason for the assassination."

"We are accused of inventing suffering."

Bernard-Henri Levy, Photo: Alexis Duclos

His journey following Pearl began after watching the execution tape that was sold as a propaganda souvenir at the entrance to one of the mosques in Pakistan.

Pearl, according to Levy, fell victim to the wave of anti-Semitism that intensified in the period after the events of 9/11: "We are accused of inventing suffering, of imagining becoming victims while erasing Palestinian suffering, and this is exactly the discourse that restarts the anti-Semitic machine."

Commemoration of his name

After the murder, Pearl's parents set up an association in his memory in an attempt to continue his path: to bring different cultures together and encourage professional journalistic work like his.

Without bitterness and without anger, for example, they decided to fund work in America for journalists from Islamic countries.

9 years ago, an international press institute named after Pearl was established at Reichman University in Herzliya, then the Interdisciplinary Academic Center.

In order not to forget and erase the circumstances of his murder, in April 2007 Pearl's name was engraved on a site commemorating the victims of the Holocaust in Miami, Florida.

This was the first time that the name of a Jew who was not murdered in the Holocaust was added to the memorial wall there.

Pearl's parents, his wife Marian and his son at the inauguration of the newsroom named after him at the IDC in Herzliya, Photo: Yehoshua Yosef

About a year ago, the leader of the cell that abducted Pearl, Sheikh Ahmad Omar Said, was released, after 18 years of legal proceedings.

The court also acquitted the other three defendants - despite the lack of evidence to prove they were not responsible for the abduction and murder of the American journalist.

White House spokeswoman Jen Saki said at the time that the decision in the Supreme Court of Pakistan was "an insult to victims of terrorism around the world," and that Washington "is committed to achieving justice for Daniel Pearl's family."

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2022-01-22

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