“My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.”
In my memory, there are certain place markers in the history of terrorism that led to where we are today.
The 1972 Munich Massacre of Israeli athletes (1972); the bombing of the Beirut Marine Barracks (1983), the World Trade Center attacks (1993 and 2001); the Jerusalem Sbarro Pizza bombing (2001) and the videotaped beheading of Daniel Pearl, February 1, 2002.
I don’t diminish the significance and horror of other attacks, it’s just that these are memory reference points for me.
In searching our archives, I can’t find a post we devoted to providing what happened to Daniel Pearl, though we have mentioned him. Shame on us.
This article from The Telegraph in May 2004 relates some of the basic details, Daniel Pearl ‘refused to be sedated before his throat was cut’
Horrifying new details of how Daniel Pearl, the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter, met his death have emerged from the interrogation of new suspects by Pakistani police.
Pearl, who was kidnapped in Karachi in January 2002, knew for several hours that he was about to be killed, but resisted repeated attempts to sedate him, police now believe.
He was fully aware of what was happening when the Arab extremists who took control during his final days cut his throat, according to information gleaned from Pakistani militants now in police custody.
Shocking video film of Pearl’s murder, seen around the world via the internet, was in fact a partial reconstruction of what had happened a few moments earlier, officers have been told.
The camera operator made a mistake and missed the moment of his death, which his murderers then re-enacted, before decapitating the reporter….
Armed with a video camera, three Arabs arrived, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, third-in-command of al-Qaeda – since handed over to the Americans.
On the day Pearl died, two of his Pakistani guards were present: Ali Khan, arrested just two weeks ago, and Fazal Karim, an employee of Saud Memon. One recently told interrogators how the Arabs tried to sedate Pearl, first by injection, then by doctoring his tea.
“I think he understood that he was going to be killed and refused to accept tea or to gulp pills. He even did not allow himself to be injected.”
Before he was murdered, they forced him to relate his Jewish background and express sympathy with detainees in Guantanamo Bay before putting the knife to his throat once – and then again, a second time, owing to the faulty camera.
It was that acknowledgement of his Judaism that makes this brutal murder so memorable.
What became known only in the months and years following his gruesome execution was that Pearl’s kidnappers, a local group led by Omar Saeed Sheikh, had turned him over to Al-Qaida, specifically to 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, who in the course of 183 waterboarding torture sessions at Guantanamo confessed to having slit Pearl’s throat.
In a video released on February 21, 2002 and titled “The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl,” Pearl addresses the camera in the moments before his death: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish,” he said, adding: “Back in the town of Bnei Brak, there is a street named after my great-grandfather Chaim Pearl, who is one of the founders of the town.” He remained proud and defiant to the end.
Bnei Brak is a well-known ultra-Orthodox city in Israel. Certainly his murderers knew the significance of Pearl mentioning Bnei Brak in his final moment.
Somehow, “Rest in Peace” doesn’t seem like enough.
Postscript: Someone on Facebook reminded me. Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, to honor Pearl, pre-arranged for Pearl’s last words to be used on Koch’s gravestone:
“On my tombstone, which awaits me at the Trinity Church nondenominational cemetery at 155th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, I had inscribed the last words of Daniel Pearl — uttered at his publicly viewed murder — which were, ‘My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish,’” Koch wrote in a 2011 column for The Huffington Post.
Koch died on February 1. The same month and day as Pearl.