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Daniel Pearl

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

His life

Pearl was born in Princeton, New Jersey and grew up in southern California. He graduated with a degree in Communications from Stanford University in 1985. After working for a variety of newspapers, he joined The Wall Street Journal in 1990, working for them until his death. He became a foreign correspondent in 1996 and was serving as the newspaper's South Asia bureau chief, working out of Bombay, India 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 -- 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

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 opression 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:
We still demand the following:

- The immediate release of U.S held prisoners in Guantinamo Bay [sic], 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 [sic].

We asure [sic] 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 addressess 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."

It is later found that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed allegedly conspired in the kidnapping.


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 7-19, 2003.

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