Archive for January 22nd, 2011

Report on Daniel Pearl tells how his killers got off scot free

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
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I like to think that Daniel Pearl and I crossed paths while he was an intern working at the Palo Alto Weekly in the spring of 1984, where I was occasionally free-lancing a review. Certainly at Stanford I get enough reminders of his local sojourn.  The Stanford commemorative Daniel Pearl World Music Days Concert is an annual reminder; his parents made a moving appearance at the one I attended.  Also, Stanford announces the Daniel Pearl Journalism Internship every January — last week  Alexandra Wexler was chosen as the 2011 winner.

Given the proximity and the possible brush, it was even more distressing to learn that so many of his killers remain at large.  Two days ago at the National Press Club, the Center for Public Integrity released its report, “after conducting hundreds of interviews, scouring hundreds of documents, and filing one lawsuit … against eight government agencies,” of what really happened to WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002.  The report is here. The center’s “Pearl Project” was formed by journalists and students at Georgetown University.  The lead author is Asra Q. Nomani, Pearl’s friend and colleague. Pearl had left her home in Karachi for the interview where he was kidnapped.

Nearly half of those implicated in his Pearl’s abduction-murder — at least 14 men with some alleged involvement — are thought to remain free. The list includes guards, drivers, and fixers tied to the conspiracy. Among the other findings:

  • The kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl was a multifaceted, at times chaotic conspiracy. The Pearl Project has identified 27 men who played a part in the events surrounding the case. Members of at least three different militant groups took part in the crimes, including a team of kidnappers led by British-Pakistani Omar Sheikh and a team of killers led by Al Qaeda strategist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is known as KSM.
  • Pearl and Asra Nomani

    KSM told FBI agents in Guantanamo that he personally slit Pearl’s throat and severed his head to make certain he’d get the death penalty and to exploit the murder for propaganda. Some U.S. and Pakistani officials believe KSM may have been assisted by two of his nephews, Musaad Aruchi, whose whereabouts aren’t publicly known, and Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, KSM’s trusted aide, who is incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

  • After 9/11, KSM designated his young nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, to be the facilitator for “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. When he was kidnapped, Pearl was chasing a story that a cleric, Sheik Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, was the facilitator. He wasn’t. Reid was an Al Qaeda operative.
  • Doubts regarding KSM’s confessions during “waterboarding” were eased when FBI agents and CIA officials used a technique called vein-matching to compare the hand of the killer in the murder video with a photo of Mohammed’s hand.

More about the corruption, ineptitude and bungling in the way the murder was accomplished and how justice was mishandled afterward are here.  It’s not pleasant reading.