The Individual vs. Terroism--Mariane Pearl

by Lucy Blomfield

It is happening every day. It seems to be every day now. Suicide bombings in Israel, ambushes in Iraq, brutal, horrendous attacks in the Mid-East and other parts of the world.

We dare not get used to hearing these stories. What can we do to stop the chaos and death? What can an individual do?

Daniel and Mariane Pearl --The Fight Against Terrorism

After the September 11 attacks, Journalists Daniel and Mariane Pearl arrived in Pakistan to cover aspects of the war on terrorism. After Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder in January -- February 2002, Mariane actively fought terrorism by what she did, said and wrote.

Daniel, South Asia Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, and Mariane, a freelance journalist, met and fell in love and were married in 1999. They both had a love for truth and a yearning to tell it. They wanted "to change the world" -- and journalism was their way to do it. This meant going into dangerous situations at times, armed with notebooks and tape recorders. They often worked together.

They believed in the importance of dialogue and in "the effort to understand the other side."1 In an interview with The News Hour's Jim Leher after Daniel Pearl's death, Mariane said, "A journalist can explain how a bridge can be built between people. Readers cannot go to Pakistan and see it with their own eyes. So they're going to rely on the press. So (it's) a lot of power to be a journalist today, so a lot of power means a lot of responsibility. (We) need to be representatives of the people and not of the governments and not of (our) own opinions. (Journalists) have en educational mission. Journalists should not mislead with information due to competition or ego problems. Journalists just go and try to reflect views…" 2

The Search for the Truth

Mariane said of her work with Danny, "We would put ourselves in uncomfortable positions and situations just because we wanted to see the truth, which was for Danny an ultimate value in itself…" 3

She wrote of Daniel after his death, "(He was)…not a hero, not a spy, but an ordinary man and great journalist who has traveled the world to reveal facts and seek the truth -- a value for him as sacred as freedom itself." 4

Involvement of the Pakistani Secret Service?

Bernard-Henri Levy, French philosopher, author, and former special envoy to Afghanistan, wrote a book titled "Who Killed Daniel Pearl? - published in April of this year, which follows Daniel Pearl's last investigation. Daniel Pearl is believed to have been persuaded to go to Pakistan by London-born, Omar Saeed Sheikh. Levy claims Sheikh was a double agent, acting for the Pakistani intelligence service, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Levy claims that The Wall Street Journal correspondent was kidnapped and murdered because he uncovered links between the British terrorist Richard Reid and the Pakistani secret service. Reid is the Muslim convert who tried to use explosives in his shoe to blow up an aircraft on its way from Paris to Miami. It is alleged that Pearl also uncovered links between Pakistani bomb makers and intelligence chiefs and al-Qaida. Levy claims that Pakistan "was the real key to all Islamic-led international terrorism," and is "the most delinquent of delinquent nations." 5 He said Muslims such as Reid who were linked to al-Qaida were being manipulated by "the most violent and most anti-American faction" inside the Pakistani intelligence service. 6 It is believed that Daniel Pearl was trying to make contact with a shadowy Muslim leader known as Gillani, the "guru" of Osama bin Laden and Richard Reid. 7

Levy's book is a fictionalized account that reads like a novel. His plausible view of Pakistan's involvement has not been proven. The Economist magazine has called it an "intriguing theory." A spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington said that "there is no complicity between any official department of Pakistan and Pearl's murderers," and that the very idea is "beyond belief." 8

The Pakistani Police and the Pakistani People

Mariane spoke of the dedication of the Pakistani Police (not the ISI) to find Daniel Pearl. She said of these policemen that they were on the front lines, "fighting terrorism for all of us." After her husband's kidnapping, Marianne was very active in helping the police during their five-week search to find Daniel. She wrote of them, "They're very, very good policemen, but they have very little resources… we had to provide them with a printer…and with flashlights, and there was only one car. You had to push...for the car to start - it had only one light…" 9 She said that the policeman investigating Daniel's disappearance "gave his whole life" to the investigation. 10

After Daniel's death, she wrote of the Pakistani people, "I heard about a web site in which Pakistanis bravely signed their names to a letter of condolence. They wrote: "We unequivocally condemn the perpetrators of this enormity: They are a plague to Pakistan, and the majority of her citizens would prefer to see their kind destroyed." At last count, the signatories numbered 3,767." This was written in April 2002. 11

Violence Brings More Violence

Mariane wrote of the terrorists who killed Daniel that they "had stolen Islam for their own causes." 12

They were trying to destroy civil society and were trying to perpetrate fear and to paralyze. She wrote,

"From this act of barbarism, terrorists expect all of us to bow our heads and retreat as victims forever threatened by their ruthlessness. What terrorists forget is that they may seize the life of an innocent man or the lives of many innocent people as they did on Sept. 11, but they cannot claim the spirit or faith of individual human beings."

"I trust that our struggle will ultimately serve the greater purpose of resisting those evil people casting a shadow upon our world. This responsibility rests with each one of us no matter our age, our gender, our nationality, our religion. No individual alone will be able to fight terrorism. No state alone will be able to wage this battle. We need to overcome cultural and religious differences, motivating our governments to work hand in hand with each other, perhaps in an unprecedented way…"

"Revenge would be easy, but it is far more valuable in my opinion to address this problem of terrorism with enough honesty to question our own responsibility as nations and as individuals for the rise of terrorism. My own courage arises from two facts. One is that throughout this ordeal I have been surrounded by people of amazing value. This helps me trust that humanism ultimately will prevail. My other hope now -- in my seventh month of pregnancy -- is that I will be able to tell our son that his father carried the flag to end terrorism, raising an unprecedented demand among people from all countries not for revenge but for the values we all share: love, compassion, friendship and citizenship far transcending the so-called clash of civilizations." 13

She said that what was needed was, "Education, freedom of expression and the alleviation of poverty…" and this "could no longer be considered a government responsibility alone." 14

The Daniel Pearl Case

After a three-month trial that ended in July 2002, a Pakistani court found four Muslim extremists guilty of the kidnapping and murder. Their ringleader, Omar Sheikh, was sentenced to be hung. The other three were sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. 15 The cases are on appeal, which may take another year of more. 16

On July 8, 2003, Daniel Pearl's parents issued a statement, condemning the "current standstill in the investigation, prosecution and apprehension of those responsible for Daniel's murder. Pakistan's "functional democracy" appears grossly dysfunctional if it can permit repeated and unending postponements of court meetings in the case of Omar Sheikh. " 17

U.S. officials say that Khalid Shaik Mohammed, then al-Quida's top operational commander, personally executed Daniel Pearl. Mohammed is now in U.S. custody. It is not known if Mohammed has confessed to the murder. 18

A Past and Present Defiance of Terrorism

Mariane Pearl exhibited courage and good judgment during the time the Pakistani police were trying to find her husband. After his death, despite her grief, she continued to write and give interviews, stating of the terrorists who killed her husband, "I would not let them win." 19 She continued to speak out against violence, stating, "Revenge (will) bring us to a dead end." 20

Mariane gave birth to Adam Pearl in May 2002. She lives in Manhattan with her son, now 19 months old. She has said she want to pursue her work as a journalist.

Mariane wrote a memoir about her husband titled "A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl." In her book, she questions (as does Bernard Levy) the role of the Pakistani Secret Service.

Her life has been and continues to be a defiance of terrorism. In a recent interview, Mariane said, "The great part of our story and our value system was that after he (Daniel) died I didn't have to deny any of it. Everything we chose to live for, ethics, truth, responsible journalism -- I'm even more determined to live up to." 21



2,3,9, 19: (Jim Leher Interview 2/2/03). 4, 13: "They Did Not Take My Spirit" by Mariane Pearl, Wall Street Journal, 2/22/03.

5, 6, 7, 8, 15, 17 :

11, 12, 13, 14: "The Public Life of Private Struggles" by Mariane Pearl, 4/19/02.

16: "Killing of Pearl Fit Into Web of Radical Islam in Pakistan" by Steve Levine, The Wall Street Journal, 1/23/03. . 10,19, 20: (Larry King Interview 3/19/02).

18: "U.S. Contends Qaeda Leader Executed Pearl" by David Johnston, New York Times, 10/22/03.


Return to Table of Contents