Daniel Pearl


Despite the promises of the USA President Barack Obama to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center on Cuba on March this 2011, he signed new executive order to continue with the military trials at the Navy base. Number of detainees currently held in Guantanamo is 172, according the 28 February, 2011 fact sheet Guantanamo by numbers of the nonprofit organization Human Right First that works on implementation and promotion on universal human rights and freedoms.

Khalid Sheikh Mohhamed is a Kuwaiti in the USA custody in Guantanamo for alleged acts of terrorism, mass murder of civilians and he is among 172 prisoners of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. After his imprisonment at Guantanamo, Khalid Sheikh Mohhamed confessed that he organized and beheaded the Wall Street Journal, reporter Daniel Pearl on January 2002, Miami Herald published on their website the Associated Press article Report faults Pakistan’s Pearl murder investigation by Ashraf Khan and Nahal Toosi.

They wrote that: “he is held at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison, and the confession is believed to have come during interrogation that included water boarding”.

The AP article posted on January 20, 2011, in Miami Herald website brought the findings and results of the Pearl Project that “four men imprisoned for killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl were not present during his beheading but were convicted of murder because Pakistani authorities knowingly relied on perjured testimony and ignored other leads”.

The investigative effort called Pearl Project is joint result of the commitment of his former colleague Asra Q. Nomani, students and professors from George Town University and Washington D.C. and the Center for Pubic Integrity.

The genuine idea to combine professional and academic work on serous journalism investigation of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002 was modeled by the three decade ago an old investigative reporting project into the murder of Arizona Republic’s reporter Don Bolles.

Nomani and Barbara Feiman Todd, the director of journalism at Georgetown University visited Phoenix in 2007 to attend annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors, the world’s largest association of investigative journalist and to copy from the Arizona project for Don Bolles.

She recalls on the website of the project the conference was convenient because of the presence of Randall Bennet, formerly the regional security officer for the State Department at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, was going to be stateside in Phoenix.

“Randall and I had gotten to know each other during the horrible weeks after Danny had been kipped. Randall was a compelling figure, straight out of central casting, the kind of guy who comes to mind when you hear words like “swagger,” and in fact, he had been portrayed in Hollywood’s version of Danny’s story. I wanted Barbara to meet him”, recalls Nomani.

In spite of the Hollywood emotional movie portraits of the last days of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan before he was kidnapped – the investigative journalism in the Pearl Project discovers other elements important to what happened In Karachi with the former WSJ journalist and reporter.

The Pearl Project findings disclosure problems of criminal justice system in Pakistan and question, sometimes, the high level of trust that the USA officials have in Pakistan authorities. “From one isolated murder case”, Pearl’s friend and colleague, Nomani, admits the project grow up “to a study of various important issues”.

The truth left behind, inside the kidnaping and murder of Daniel Pearl Web page prepared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism brings key findings and continues the work on Pearl’s investigation in Pakistan before his kidnaping. Nomani gives the importance of the Pearl’s Project to “uncover and untangle militancy, Islamic extremism, and terrorism in Pakistan, with foreign policy implications much larger than we imagined when we first began”.

There is an important story in the case of Daniel Pearl investigative work in Pakistan.

“Years later, Danny’s case offers important lessons to the Obama administration as it grapples with its policy toward Pakistan as a safe haven for Taliban, Al Qaeda, and militant fighters that U.S. forces face in the war in Afghanistan. Danny’s case was a harbinger of the issues U.S. national security officials are grappling to understand today”, emphasized Nomani.

Wall Street Journal online page dedicated to their former reporter and journalist kidnaped allegedly by the Al-Qaeda members in Pakistan gives the facts on the case.

Daniel Pearl  “disappeared in the southern Pakistani City of Karachi on Jan. 23 after embarking for what he believed was an interview with a prominent figure in the country’s Islamic movement.” After four days, a new group “The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistan Sovereignty” introduced the requirements “for release of Pakistani nationals being held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the wake of the military campaign in Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan being detained in the U.S. as terrorism suspects”.

The group that was not known of the USA authorities asked “for the U.S. to turn over F-16 fighter jets purchased by Pakistan in the late 1980s but never delivered because of U.S. sanctions related to Islamabad’s nuclear-weapons program”.

The death of relevant journalist from the influential newspaper, his Jewish origin, politics, terrorism, Guantanamo, Taliban’s, dysfunctional judicial system in Pakistan – enough intrigues for Hollywood.

Mighty Heart, a movie from 2007, directed by the English director Michael Winterbottom with Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman and Irfan Kan in a manner of speaking tell us on frantic search of Mariane Pearl, to locate her husband Daniel Pearl.

Winterbottom drives the movie with the emotions and portraits the Wall Street reporter through the eyes of his wife and her book on Pearl dedicated to their children. However, one of the closest associates to Pearl, Nomani wrote an article in the Washington Post on June 24, 2007, titled A Mighty Shame. “For me, watching the movie was like having people enter my home, rearrange the furniture and reprogram my memory. I’d known it was a gamble when I agreed to help with a Hollywood version of Danny’s kidnapping, but I’d done it because I thought the movie had the potential to be meaningful”, admits Nomani in the Washington Post article.

This article was the reason Nomani to receive a call on late June 2007 from Marian Crompley from the Oklahoma City based Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation with the offer to support financially the Pearl Project. Couple of years later, the findings of this investigative journalism project reveals “serious issues that have relevance today to U.S. policy and America’s war in Afghanistan: the emergence of a “Punjabi Taliban, made up of militants from the Pakistani province of Punjab; the role of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, as a safe haven for militants; and the nexus between the Pakistani militancy and Al Qaeda”.

Work Cited:

1. http://www.miamiherald.com/2007/11/27/322461/by-the-numbers.html

2.http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/20/2024799_p2/report-faults-daniel-pearl-murder.html#ixzz1K94rQM9M

3. A Mighty Shame. (2007, June 24). In The Washington Post. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://wapo.st/1NU8raL

4. More on Daniel Pearl Read the prepared statement from Wall Street Journal Publisher Peter Kann and Managing Editor Paul Steiger. Read a chro. (2002, February 24). In The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://on.wsj.com/1JJvnFq

5. The truth left behind. (n.d.). In The Pearl Project. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://treesaver.publicintegrity.org/daniel_pearl

6. The Pearl Project. (n.d.). In The Pearl Project George Town University. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://bit.ly/1EHmVaE

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