Who Was Daniel Pearl?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Daniel Pearl was a Wall Street Journal reporter who became known the world over after his kidnapping and murder in 2002. Militant terrorists in Pakistan kidnapped Pearl as he investigated the War on Terrorism. Daniel Pearl would become part of the story he was investigating, an innocent death in a war most of the world does not want.

Daniel Pearl was born on 10 October 1963 in Princeton, New Jersey. A talented writer from an early age, Pearl co-founded the Stanford Commentary while a student at Stanford University. After only a few weeks working at the San Francisco Business Times, he moved on to the Wall Street Journal in 1990. While working for the Journal, Pearl moved from Atlanta to Washington and then on to London as a Middle East correspondent.

Pearl's next role would be as South Asia Bureau Chief for the Journal, situated in Bombay. It was here that he began his investigations, reporting stories on the War on Terrorism. His reports included accounts of money laundering by the Al Qaeda and the story of a Sudanese pharmaceutical company that was mistakenly identified by the US as a weapons plant.


In 2002, Daniel Pearl found himself in Pakistan investigating links between the Al Qaeda and the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He was also investigating reports that 100,000 US dollars (USD) had been placed in Mohammed Atta's account in the US by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Mohammed Atta was at the time the director general of the ISI and a chief operative of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

On 23 January 2002, Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi. The terrorists believed they had kidnapped an important media figure. Photographs began appearing around the world of a handcuffed Pearl with a gun to his head. The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and stated that unless their demands were met, Pearl would be murdered.

Included in the kidnapper's demands to the US were the return of Pakistani prisoners to Pakistan and the end of the US presence in Pakistan. Despite the interventions of heads of state, religious leaders, and many more, the murder of Daniel Pearl was confirmed on 21 February 2002. On 21 March 2002, three suspects and the British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh were charged with Pearl's murder. All were eventually convicted, and Sheikh was sentenced to death.

According to friends who knew Daniel Pearl, he was a man who loved life, people, and the diversity of the world's cultures. He was loved by many more in return. Since his death, the life and spirit of Daniel Pearl have become an inspiration to many.


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