It has been more than a year since a 38 year-old reporter from the Wall Street Journal caught the attention of a terrorist organization, the front pages of newspapers, and the hearts of the American people.
Daniel Pearl, a burgeoning reporter hired by the Journal in 1990, worked in Atlanta, Washington, London and later Paris. He was like every reporter, dispatched into the field to find out the who, what, where, when, and how’s of the breaking stories, the most updated information for the civilians-far from the front lines-back home. The reporter became the story on Jan. 23, 2002, when he was kidnapped by the terrorist organization called the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty.
Pearl is the example of the results of the interwoven global village, the dark face of the era of globalization. He was abducted in Karachi, Pakistan, reporting on a Pakistani terrorist group whose ability to reach the American people seemed dubious at best. However, after Sept. 11 no group fostering anti-American hatred could be ignored. Daniel Pearl went to Karachi to give a voice to the growing anger, to report the side not covered by Western newspapers in the fight against terrorism, walking straight into the heart of darkness.
His death has shown the world that there are times when there can be no rational objectivity, no esoteric ivory tower to report the story and form opinions, only the reality of our actions. In the grisly video preceding his decapitation, Daniel Pearl’s demeanor is troubled, his words hesitant. “We Americans will face the responsibility of our actions.” He didn’t have to die for us to recognize that.
The same era of globalization that sent an American reporter, born in Princeton, N. J., to Karachi, Pakistan, as a Jew in the land of Islam also spawned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the senior Al-Qaeda agent who held the knife that slit the reporter’s throat. Death and imprisonment was justice served to Pearl’s killers in Pakistan. Nevertheless, the wheels of justice churn slowly. The killers are appealing and Mohammed is nowhere to be found.
The death of Daniel Pearl is disturbing not only because there were no serious demands for his release, (everything from freeing Pakistani detainees to supplying the Pakistani Air Force with U.S. F-16), not solely because he was accused of being a CIA agent (then later a Mossad agent), not just because he was an American Jew, not only because he was a father to be-his wife five months pregnant-when he was murdered.
The death of Daniel Pearl was disturbing first because there was no reason for him to die. There is no reason for his wife Marianne to be without her husband, his son Adam to be without a father. There was no reason.
Since Daniel Pearl’s death, a foundation has been formed in his memory to “further the ideals that inspired Daniel’s life and work” (http://www.danielpearlfoundation.org/). Music, awards and internships have been created and numerous tributary articles authored (including this one) remembering the Wall Street reporter who died on Feb. 21.
On behalf of the one-year anniversary of Daniel Pearl’s death, his parents-Judea and Ruth Pearl wrote:
“This year we will observe the one year anniversary of his death in synagogues in ways that remember and honor Daniel Pearl as a Jew, a citizen of the world, and a dialogue maker…we will all be strengthened when people of courage stand together in solidarity against terrorism, racism and the anti-Semitism that took our son’s life. We hope that by bringing together people of different beliefs, building trust, and uniting them in a common stand for sanity and humanity, our son’s life and his untimely death will make a difference.”
For this reporter, it already has.